Education and Learning Systems

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I’ve been thinking a lot about education, from how we teach our youth to how we teach ourselves. My favorite way to learn is by doing. By getting my hands dirty, performing experiments, testing to see what happens, and making note (maybe only mentally) of what I learn, I seem to both retain better, and be happier about what I’ve accomplished.

I’ve never really been one to love learning because someone tells me I should learn something. I want to learn from my own volition. I want to learn because it’s interesting to me. I suppose this has it’s downfalls at times too, because sometimes I flitter about to different topics or get distracted easily. But I still have a really good time and get excited when I’m exposed to new concepts, ideas, and topics.

So what makes people excited to learn? I was thinking about this quote recently…

The reality is that most of us grow up strapped in an educational system that favors obedience over independent thinking. We’re rewarded for trusting authority, and punished for challenging it. We focus on memorizing the stuff other people came up with – formulas in math, grammar rules in English, theories in physics, cell functions in biology – rather than grasping the logic behind our most important breakthroughs and tracing the footsteps of their discovery. We answer test questions with what we think our teacher wants to hear. We chase grades instead of knowledge. And worst of all, we leave the classroom woefully unequipped with the thinking skills that matter most: how to balance open-mindedness with skepticism, how to identify bias, and how to challenge assumptions – including our own – in a way that’s truly objective.

Denise Minger, From Death By Food Pyramid

And from that, I was thinking about how I was taught and challenged in school. I had some really great teachers who challenged me, didn’t just teach to the tests, and I think really wanted to inspire us kids to learn in our own ways. But I also had a really great structure at home. My parents both challenged me to, encouraged me to grow and explore, and supported me in topics I was fascinated about. So, how do we expand that system so that everyone gets a great education, has a good support system, and is encouraged to learn about things they are interested in and teach them to learn in their own way?

I sure don’t know the answer here… but I guess I’m still learning.

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