Sunday, April 13, 2014

Back To Basics

Education has had a long drawn out history. During the 19th and early 20th century children were educated in two different venues: school when they could and with their parents. While the parents acknowledged the importance of school the necessity was to have the children at home working with their parents so the family could survive. As people saw how much more prosperous educated people were, doctors, lawyers, engineers the gravitation towards a better education became a mantra for success. What is missing from this argument is the fact that children were schooled at home or where their parents worked about the intricacies of the jobs they performed every day. Farmers talked about the science of growing crops and tending herds with their children. Storekeepers taught their children about maintaining a store, bookkeeping, people skills. All the things the children were taught brought great value to their communities and helped them to survive and grow.

All of the basic concepts of school were taught within the children’s learning environments. Schools supplemented this providing a richer environment before it became necessary to leave school at an early age.  When the movement towards industrialization and larger cities began the jobs people encountered there did not allow them to continue the type of informal education described above.  Schools were forced to take on a greater role in educating children promoting it as a means to greater rewards. Thus began the progression towards everyone needing a higher education.  This meant that topics of interest became more theoretical in approach rather than hands on. Science became something through text books. Areas where a student’s interest might lie were shuffled off to higher education. You want to be a builder. Get a degree. A veterinarian? Same thing.  Other areas of interest, especially the arts, were minimalized and trivialized as being unimportant because they are not money makers.

As a society we need to get back to the concept of educating children in a more diverse way than just in school. Children should be allowed to pursue their interests and develop their knowledge in those areas. Subjects should be taught in conjunction with their interests. Let’s focus more on completing the whole child, rather than our limited view of it, as seen in today’s schools.