Monday, 6 May 2013

Conformity. I hate it.

The world right now is trying to find a way to educate children to take the adults' place in the economies of the 21st century but here's what they're doing wrong. They're trying to face the feature with techniques that have long gone rusty.

In an attempt to succeed in the modern world they are alienating millions of children who don't see a purpose in going to school because the good old reason "If you study well, you get a degree and if you get a degree then you will get a job" is also quite pathetic and absolutely false in today's age. Of course, you're better off with a degree than not but it is most definitely not a guarantee of a job. Especially not if the route to getting that particular job is marginalizing what you believe is important.

The current system was conceived in the intellectual culture of the enlightenment and made for the economic circumstances of the Industrial Revolution. Schools are still modeled on the interest of industrialism and the image of it. They are made up of separate facilities, specialized into separate subjects and educate children in batches.

Who thought it was a revelation to categorize children in a way that implies the only thing they have in common is their age. Since when was their date of production the most important factor of their education?

Children are humans - in case the majority of the education board forgot that - and children function differently in different disciplines. Some work better than others of the same age group, some are most efficient during different times of the day or in groups of different sizes. We need to stop basing everything on a production line mentality. Children are not produce, they happen to be the future.

Recently, the rates of diagnoses of ADHD have increased rapidly. Wether you think ADHD is a legitimate condition or not is still quite debatable but the point is these children that assumably have ADHD are getting medicated routinely. They happen to have been brought into this world into the most intensely stimulating period in the history of the Earth; in the midst of computers, phones, adverts and 100s of tv channels. They are then later penalized for being distracted from the "boring stuff" by all that. So, let's punish them for being normal human beings?

This mentality is fueled by the celebration of conformity and standardized testing, which could lead brilliant people into thinking they're not because they happen to not excel or find their forte in Mathematics or Sciences. I'm focusing on those particular subjects because the arts happen to be the victims of this mentality because they focus on the aesthetic experience; the idea of all the senses operating at their peak. Resonating with this thing that you're experiencing. And these children that apparently suffer from ADHD are given anesthetics; which basically shut their senses off. How could you do that to a learning and exploring mind?

Now we have become divided into the academic (the smart) and the non-academic (the non-smart). This categorization is what puts a limit to divergent thinking. Divergent thinking is essentially:

  • The ability to see more than one interpretation to a single question.
  • and the ability to see more than one answer for a specific question.
  • This is called Lateral Thinking, according to Ed De Bono
A longitudinal study was carried out to test kindergartners based on a book about divergent thinking called Breakpoint And Beyond: Mastering The Future Today and if someone achieved a certain score, they would be considered a genius in divergent thinking. The results might not be what you expect; 98% of kindergartners scored at a genius level. 5 years later, the same students were tested and the percentage decreased, and the same happened even 5 more years.

This proves that 1. We all have this capacity but it mostly deteriorates as we get "educated". Why? Because we're doing it all wrong. Yes. Shocker, isn't it? You spend 10 years at school being taught that there is only one answer. And it's in the back of the book, but don't look, because that's cheating. Even though in the real world that's called collaboration..but hey, I'll turn a blind eye on that one.

Moral of all this is that we need to think differently about the human capacity and get over the categorizing of things; academic, abstract, theoretical. It's all a bunch of pointless and very much outdated theories that don't even benefit us in moving forward.

P.S: This was all inspired and based on the lecture by Sir Ken Robinson, that you can watch right here. Thank you for wording all my thoughts and enlightening me, properly for once.

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