A In general teachers, the world over, instruct children in the same way and that is by repetition. The ability to remember verbatim a string of dates (or data) is rewarded and praised. Those that do not conform to this application of teaching are, however, chastised and marginalised.
The end result is that the conformists get pushed up the system into university and into the plum jobs in society and those that ‘don’t fit’ the system fall by the wayside. They are left to make they own way in the world through living off their wits and hard endeavour.
Consider this – was it more important to know that the Battle of Hastings was 1066 (would it matter now if had been 64, 65, 67 or 68?) or is it more important to know the socio-political impact of the battle? The crux of my concern is that those four numbers would be marked as irrevocably wrong in exam answers and could constitute failure. A grasp of the Norman impact on England does not enter the equation.
Those of us old enough to remember pre-electronic calculator days had to learn the times tables by rote. No bad thing in reality. But four times six pops into our head immediately as 24, four times six PLUS five requires a little thought but not if you think laterally as five times six (table pops into the head as 30) minus one equals 29.
It is only by the time young people arrive at university are they encouraged to question everything. It is sometimes a struggle for students to do this given the conditioning in their early years.
The sad thing is that at that point a lot of the free-thinkers are out of the educational system because they did not conform. I’m not saying that some of them may not have the ability to progress further. There are potentially quite a few that could. Of those the lateral thinkers could benefit from further education and afterwards apply that lateral ability to advancing the world’s future.
The brave and the bold people prepared to take risks and think ‘outside the box’ could achieve something that the mass produced mind may not.
I could list a whole pile of self made men and women who were failed by the education system but went on to become very influential in pushing the boundaries of the world forward but I won’t. I will leave you with the figure of Sir Richard Branson, who is dyslexic. This condition was not considered by his schools and his academic ability was considered poor. The man is now pioneering space tourism amongst numerous other things.
How many other worthy people has the education system cast aside because they did not fit that mould? And only because they could or would not spend wasted hours drumming facts into their heads and regurgitating them in class the next day.
Our teachers, who in the majority, go to school, go to university and then back to school really need to get some life experience. It would be better for all concerned if they found out what the world is like, what it really needs and formulated ways to educate for the future before they perpetuate the erroneous cycle of stifling our progress.