Recently I wrote a post ‘Does School work’, which prompted a good level of interaction and discussion. One particularly interesting set of exchanges was with Robin Brittain, as a result of these I offered to host some guest blogs for Robin to that he could share his experiences and alternative route to becoming an Architect. Over the next five days we’ll be able to read the series.

I recently read a blog post by Rob Cameron titled ‘Does School work’ regarding the educational ‘taught learning’ processes at school and the practical application of such schooling for the workplace, a subject which for many years I have had an interest and felt strongly about. And where he makes reference to the book ‘Linchpin’ by Seth Godin in which one of the chapters titled, “Indoctrination: How we get here”, includes some paragraphs around the structure of schooling in industrialised societies.

This is a book I have not read, but where I know a key theme is about how people are held back from doing what they know they are capable of achieving and the educational system where an individual fits in to defined pre-programmed compliance and to take instruction, as opposed to independent thinking and actions.

Rob described what he had read so far in this book as ‘an eye-opener’ and how Godin had ‘hit the nail firmly on the head’.

The Education Treadmill

For myself, my eyes lit up reading this post. On a similar theme, it reminded me of my own experiences and passage or personal journey through education, my perception then and now as being part of a treadmill system with an ethos of rigid or prescriptive doctrine, and led path of focused educational learning process with assessments; tests and exams along the way with rewards, for example, ‘awards’ at the end, such as a certificate, and with the individual tailored and tied to the system, rather than system tailored to the individual, with pupils or students restrictive in being able to lead themselves by directing their own education, and ultimately in acquiring skills, such as social interaction and inter-personal skills with communication and emotion, creativity, imagination and originality, motivation with investigation and exploration, free and ‘critical’ thinking and development of thoughts and ideas, with problem solving and decision making, i.e. intuitive. This is often identified as ever increasingly noticeable where there have been moves towards the focus on league tables and results, where the attention is based on set programs of study.

Rob touches on this, and succinctly, describing in his blog post, how;

We seem to be neglecting the higher value of education, to develop people who can think independently, who can take knowledge and apply it, question it and add value to it

Education in the main tends to be classroom or lecture, timetable led to timescales, following a defined, one-dimensional curriculum with syllabuses, as opposed a dynamic approach, i.e. Information is regularly made available being given in various formats, such as white board, display screen etc… and received in such ways such as being written down in an exercise book or folder, and at some subsequent point re-visited though an assessment method, such an assignment, test or exam.

This habitual and routine style approach in itself can leave little room for manoeuvre with an environment for varied teaching and engaging and developing learning skills. To put it rather crudely to ‘think outside the box’ …. unimpeded by orthodox or conventional constraints and not to hold people back from doing what they are capable of achieving.

Education: It’s not all about learning knowledge and skills…

Rob mentioned a discussion he had with a colleague about ‘how a number of graduate engineers enter industry with exceptionally strong academic backgrounds and yet find it incredibly hard to actually apply any of that to practical, real world problems or to add value beyond accepted wisdom’.

I firmly believe in education that promotes and imparts a variety of knowledge and skills – abilities and talents in young people, whether academically orientated, e.g. Intellectual from the rudimentaries of literacy with being able to read and write with spoken language, with numeracy through to supplementary / advanced, theoretical, information and practical area’s or fields – topics, themes and subjects of learning, and right through to mental well-being, personal development e.g. Social aspects, such as character, personality etc…

And ultimately it’s not just about learning knowledge and skills, and personal being and status, but also knowing how to handle, and deal with (what to do with it), which equips an individual to face the realities and challenges of everyday life, an example being application in the workplace.