Lessons on Education and Learning in the 21st Century - Part 2
Apr 8, 2010 Other 2583 Views
The US education system may not be the best in the world (then again, it might be), but at least it gives us generation after generation of literate individuals who have some sort of general idea of who we are as a nation and as a world, and at least a sketchy idea of how we got here. That's important. It also reflects that I am not putting down the system in its totality, just saying that improvements could be made. It's an argument that only a fool would counter. The problem arises when the debate over how to improve it starts.
There are those who would argue that there really isn't a need for everyone who moves through the system to learn Latin or Spanish or some other "useless" foreign language. Actually there are people who would debate the merits of reading literature. The idea of a general education to make people well rounded somehow escapes them. The idea of the advantages of being multi-lingual also may be hard to understand, when so many people rarely leave their hometown, and then are unhappy that the staff at a resort in another country doesn't have the courtesy to speak English. It boggles the mind or at least boggles the thinking mind.
So there are two aspects of elementary and high school education and they both are equally important. One is to prepare a child for life in practical aspects and another is to open their minds to the wide world out there and the possibilities for their future. So, equally important is music education and driver's education. How children are taught and what path they take is impacted on these two levels.
As they move forward in their lives, post public education, is where a lot of this becomes impacting.
How do they view learning? Was it an enjoyable experience? Did they feel they got something out of it? Learning about things you want to learn about can really turn things around in a person's life. Once a child has mastered the fundamentals, they need to be able to explore education in things they want to learn about, just to realize the pleasure in learning, if nothing else. Having a teenager master a song on an instrument, or make a piece of pottery, or learn photography, film making, theater, auto mechanics, or whatever - because they want to - can give an appreciation for learning, and that needs to happen.
We are in a period of history that information doubles every ten years. The way we live is vastly different from even twenty years ago, and unless a person embraces learning - and does it early and often - they are going to be increasingly ignorant. To paraphrase Paul McCartney, "in this ever changing world in which we're living, give it a try, learn or bye bye." Love of reading and learning will serve people all their days and keep them in the loop. My mother, at age 76 learned how to send and receive e-mail, while my younger brother still refuses. It's not a question of intelligence; it's just a matter of being willing to take the best of what the world has to offer and not turning away from something new just because it starts out being foreign and uncomfortable. That's learning.