Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Education is Everyone's Business: Do something about it!

There's a wonderful quote from Benjamin Franklin. "There are three sorts of people in the world: Those who are immovable, people who don't get, they don't want to get it, they're going to do anything about it. There are people who are movable, people who see the need for change and are prepared to listen to it. And there are people who move, people who make things happen." And if we can encourage more people, that will be a movement. And if the movement is strong enough, that's, in the best sense of the word, a revolution. And that's what we need. - Sir Ken Robinson


"You know, I grew up in the inner city, and there were kids who were failing in schools 56 years ago when I first went to school, and those schools are still lousy today, 56 years later. And you know something about a lousy school? It's not like a bottle of wine. Right? (Laughter) Where you say, like, '87 was like a good year, right? That's now how this thing -- I mean, every single year, it's still the same approach, right? One size fits all, if you get it, fine, and if you don't, tough luck. Just tough luck. Why haven't we allowed innovation to happen? Do not tell me we can't do better than this." -Geoffrey Canada

 As part of the effort in improving the education system, I've been hosting a conversation on TED( http://www.ted.com/conversations/18310/what_can_we_do_an_open_lett.html) to kill time while taking a break from studying for my exams. Through the conversation, I manage to reach many people from different parts of the world with common interest, and I've learned a lot from having conversations with them both through TED and email.

   I've received a number of articles and an ebook on education including The Big Picture: Education is Everyone's business from the TED community to help further my understanding in the field of education. In the first chapter of the book,it clearly stated the real goals of education which basically are as follows;
1) to be lifelong learners
2) be passionate
3) be ready to take risks
4) be able to problem-solve and think critically as well as constructively
5) be able to look things differently
6) be able to work independently with others
7) be creative
8) care and want to give back to their community
9) persevere 
10) have integrity and self-respect
11) have moral courage
12) be able to use the world around them well
13) speak well,write well , read well and work well with numbers
14) to be curious
15)  most importantly , truly enjoy their life and their work

  It seems that we are deviating ourselves from the real purpose of it; we've been too focused on exams. Yes , we are learning something in school , we do learn maths , science , chemistry , history etc. , but it seems that we are learning to be good at answering the exam questions rather than understanding the subject. However,exams are indeed important , we need exams or tests to check our progress and to know as to whether we have conceptual understanding of what we are learning. But it shouldn't be the dominant culture of education, it shouldn't be something that we would stay up to burn the midnight oil for, spending lots of money for tuition fees or seminars,  and have classes or lessons in school completely centered on how to be good at answering exam questions just to get good grades ( and forget what we've learned 5 days later! But still , for us students , it's better for us to follow the system and work hard to get good grades for now)

   For example,concerning the unemployment. In his article on How To Get a Job? , Thomas L. Friedman , who is also the author of of The World is Flat, said that there are 2 main reasons why people get rejected for jobs which are:

1)  Employers don't care what you know , they only care on how you can add value to what you know. And in spite that you have degrees or masters in any particular field related to the job, many can't tell the employers how they can add value. 

2)  They don't know what they want, and it comes through because they have not learned the skills that are needed.  I believe this is the fault of the education system itself, not the students or the teachers.

   Why do college drop-outs become rich while those with high credentials don't? In my opinion, the successful people have a few things in common, they are lifelong learners, creative, relentlessly "entrepreneurial", inventors and solution-finders. As Dale J. Stephens (founder of UnCollege , and he is about my age!!!) clearly asserted that the requirements are confidence, curiosity and grit, which is pretty much aligned with the real purpose of education. 

   Perhaps  flipped learning (although there are many ways to flip the class) isn't the only approach when it comes to improving the education within the constraints of the public education system. There are other approaches such as problem-based learning  and service learning . Regardless of the terminologies, learning should be student-centered as learning is personal. When learning stems from your own initiative and action , it becomes more relevant and meaningful. Of course, this is facilitated by teachers , who are acting as mentors.

   The world is changing , but schools hardly changed. Education is everyone's business, and I believe we all should do our part; whether you are a student , a teacher , or a parent. 

     As Sir Ken Robinson ended his talk by quoting Benjamin Franklin on 3 types of people, the immovable,movable and those who move, lets be one of those who move, by asking ourselves what can we do? and most importantly , by start taking action.

As for now , we are trying to replicate the desired outcome of student-centered learning. Do follow my blog on faizulzuraimi.blogspot.com for updates.

Thank you.

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