For some time now I’ve been wondering about how I’m going to handle Gavin and Gareth’s education. For us, there were three options:
- Send them to a local school
- Send them to a Chinese school
- Send them to an International school
For a while, I thought that these were our only options until it came to my notice that there are a growing number of parents who are homeschooling their children because they are concerned about the inadequacy of the current education system. It appears, they aren’t the only ones. In a talk on TED, Sir Ken Robinson challenged the way we have been educating our children. He believes there is a need to rethink the current schooling systems so that we can cultivate creativity and acknowledge multiple types of intelligence.
The current school model is drilling creativity out of our children and, as a result, we are creating a population who are good workers, but poor creative thinkers. We’re failing our children because we’re failing to help them achieve their best and the problem lies at the heart of our education system. This is prevalent not to any country but all over the world. Watch his talk on TED to learn more:
You should also read this article on the Washington Post by Heather Wilson – “Our Superficial Scholars“. This is what she has to say about the students from American Universities:
high-achieving students seem less able to grapple with issues that require them to think across disciplines or reflect on difficult questions about what matters and why.
Gone are the “students who wonder, students who are reading widely, students of passion who are driven to make a difference in the lives of those around them and in the broader world through enlightened and effective leadership.” This is because the “undergraduate education they are receiving seems less and less suited to that purpose.”
Are you worried? I know I am. But what is to be done?
Sir Ken Robinson continues on Youtube with an excellent presentation on changing education paradigms – go check it out.
So the current education system may have worked for us in the past – back in the day of the Industrial Revolution – but it is no longer working now. What we need, Sir Robinson believes, is not education reform, but an education revolution.
Although he doesn’t really present a solution to the problem, he does give us some direction. We need to help our children discover their passion (exactly what Ruiko Henmi shares in the Heguru Handbook). No matter what their dreams, don’t belittle them or discourage them because we think they are impractical. A great lesson can be learned from the example Sir Robinson gives about the man who had wanted to be a fireman all his life. When he was done with highschool, his teacher told him he was wasting his talent. Despite what his teacher said, he went on to become a fireman and ended up saving the life of his teacher and his wife.
Many parents easily crush the “silly dreams” of their children because they don’t believe they are practical. Instead, they steer them towards a direction that they believe will offer more financial security. For example, “You can’t be an artist because you won’t be able to make any money.” Many of the careers that exist today did not exist in our parents’ day, so how can they know what obscure careers can turn into amazing opportunities.
The other lesson I took away from Sir Robinson was the example he gave about the woman who choreographed the musical CATs. If she had been a child in school today, she would have been labelled as having ADHD. Instead of discovering her passion for dancing, she would have been put on Ritalin. She wasn’t an academic, but she was talented in dance. If we want to help our children make a difference to this world, we need to tune in to their passions and help them uncover their hiddden talents. We can’t do that if our children are too busy trying to make it through school.
With the increasing competition for good schools, parents are becoming too focussed on T-Scores and academics to the exclusion of everything else. Sir Robinson talks about toddlers undergoing assessments to get into a “good” kindergarten. In Japan, children as young as 10 years old have only 10 minutes to eat their dinner before proceeding to tuition classes to study until late at night. According to hubby, who spoke to some neighbourhood fathers, one of the children who was in Standard 3 (Grade 3 – primary school) woke up at 5:30am in the morning to get ready for school. He goes from school to tuition classes and isn’t home until 9pm. He’s in bed by 11pm so that he is ready to start all over again the next day. Despite all the extra classes, he’s still failing.
What are the solutions? Sir Robinson says a revolution is required. Hirotada Henmi (President of HEGL) says right brain education is the answer. The way I see it, until we get Sir Robinson’s revolution in the education system, right brain education and/or homeschooling may be the only solutions.
Sir Robinson has two books that may be worth reading: