Why We Need Education Police by Mel Rosenberg - מל רוזנברג - Ourboox.com
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Why We Need Education Police

I'm also a scientist, musician, inventor and lecturer. During the daytime I am co-founder of Ourboox. In the evening I Read More
Member Since
Oct 2013
Published Books
1472

We need education police to teach us what we ‘need’ to know. And what we need to know is what they decide that we ‘need’ to know.

Imagine a world in which children could choose to learn what they wanted to learn. To gain various skill sets. To ask lots of questions. What a mess that would be. No wonder we need the Education Police. They set up the curricula.

Imagine if every teacher would construct their own curriculum. What a mess that would be. If they did it together with the students it could sabotage the entire system.

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That is why we need the Education Police.  They decide what the questions will be on the tests and exams and what the right answers to their questions are… We need them to set curricula, give tests, check compliance. These are important things. But why are they important?

I asked Lord Jim Knight, past minister in the UK government. He told me that schools and high schools are not for education. Their purpose is to act as a sorting for colleges and universities so they can choose the ones they want to accept. You mean the ones who tend to get the answers right? Good for you!

2

I’ve had some strange encounters lately. I met with a first grade class last week. Two of the children, aged six, knew that 64+64=128. Let’s not talk about whether it’s of any importance to know such additions off by heart, or whether it is a valuable skill in first grade, or any grade.

Let’s not talk about how they learned it. What I want to talk about is the passion they had when they answered. It was important FOR THEM. It was fun FOR THEM. It was a game FOR THEM.

My granddaughter, who is in that class, knows that forty divided by four yields ten (I have no idea how she knows that). But if you gave her an hour to learn whatever she wanted, she would probably ask to work on her powerpoint skills.

3

Second encounter: with my 100+ students at Tel Aviv University. Tel Aviv University has a very reputable reputation, and the students are among our country’s best. The students in my interdisciplinary (what’s that you might ask) popular music class hail from all over campus. They are pleasant and bright. But each year they seem to know less and less about anything that they weren’t taught in school.

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So they all know Robert Frost (on the curriculum), but less than 1% of them know who Dylan Thomas was (or W.H.Auden, or T.S. Elliott, and I could go on), they can’t remember hardly nothing from the Bible (unless it’s a passage they had on an exam).

And even worse, when I play them a swing tune in class, they sit there like the clay army in China and don’t snap their fingers to the beat, or tap one foot, or show any emotion. It’s as if they learned in school: “No need to bring your heart or soul to class, folks. After all, there won’t be any questions on Mel’s exam that involve FEELING something or MOVING any of your limbs.

5

In my music class, I play different songs from various genres, hoping that each student will find something new that he, she or their can identify with.   The students have the option of getting a passing grade by writing an ebook on a band or musical subject of their choice. OF THEIR CHOICE. They seem to love that option.

Now let me ask you this. What do you remember of all the math formulas you learned, the historical details you had to study for the exams, the Latin we had to learn (isn’t it great fun to study a language that no one speaks?), the physics equations. Very little. The only thing I remember from my first year biochemistry course was a joke that the teacher cracked. Perhaps that’s no wonder as I was never in that class.

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On the other hand, what we all remember are the projects we did as individuals or in small groups.  I did projects on Australia, New Zealand, Quebec City. In high school I wrote essays on Iago as a sexual pervert, and why Shakespeare is like quantum physics. These are the things I remember well. Autonomy. No set questions with right answers.

So I’ve been thinking. Kids these days can get knowledge anywhere. What they need at school is to follow their innate curiosity, to learn through passion, to develop skills. Personal skills, motor skills and analytic skills. Instead we concentrate on analytical skills, which are easy to test and grade.

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What if school were the opposite? What if kids didn’t have to study curricula till the tenth or eleventh grade. They could study music of their choice, sports of their choice, learn social skills, self expression, team working, presentation skills. After all, After all, if they don’t start to behave like human beings when they are very young, they won’t learn these skills in high school.

It’s easy peasy to teach a sixteen year old kid with hardly any background math and science. But to teach them human skills, we need to start young.

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