What Constitutes Education?

“Our large schools)..are organized like a factory of the late 19th C : top down, command control management, a system designed to stifle creativity and independent judgment.” David T Kearns CEO Xerox

‘The guiding principle being put forward is that schools must be self directing.’ John Goodland

‘It is, in fact, little short of a miracle that the modern methods of education have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to wrack and ruin without fail.’

Albert Einstein

Alternative Education Resource Organization

K-12 Academics: Alternative Education

I do not believe education happens in just a school setting. If we are open to new things and explore what is around us, there is a lot of real education available. There is a whole wide world at our fingertips now. what we learn from it, what we take from it, is up to us. Or just you. YOU need to find what is out there.

We mainly think in terms of our children in education (unless you are into Continuing Ed classes or going back, like I did, for your Masters/PhD later in life).  If you are not seeking out “formal” paths of paper certified education, don’t think you still can’t, or worse, don’t, have more to learn. Opening yourself to lifelong learning is, to me, a very important part of life.

‘Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the life-long attempt to acquire it.’

Albert Einstein

I’m now involved in the planning committees of TWO proposed Performing Arts Charter Schools. My work in curriculum development is being utilized here, making arts integration  the main foundations of the schools. Yes, I want separate arts disciplines to thrive on their own, but the guidelines and rules of these Charter schools get in the way. Yes…the states mandates still get in the way.

If you’ve noticed, I have been somewhat quiet about educational subjects lately. Personally, it has been a frustrating period, and I have been trying to wrap my head around the restrictions imposed the two projects. If you look at the second link above, you’ll find a slew of alternative ideas out there. I am doing more research, so more on new(ish) ideas and thoughts to come.

The Bosch painting that heads this is how I see what is going on. My interpretation: we are fractured in our murky confinement. Boxed in, and boxed in again. Encased, closed off, separated, and just uneasily floating in a bubble that is waiting to burst.

What Constitutes Education?

In no particular order, MY answers to this are as follows (but, really, are not closed: I’m always open to a new idea, or simply one I forgot):

  • Inquiry Based Learning
  • Peer to Peer Mentoring
  • Freedom for Failure (learning from the “mistake”, not making it a negative)
  • Open ended process at times, to allow interpretations (doesn’t always work in Math & Science, but…)
  • Feeling safe in stating/putting out your ideas
  • Dialogue & exchange of ideas (see above)
  • Exploration of the world around us (parks, museums, historical sites, using the  internet properly, etc)
  •  LISTENING and focus
  • Not settling for mediocrity,
  • Not rewarding for least effort/what was required; only for going beyond what was expected
  • Drop all the PC garbage, which creates this new fear & loathing, and really teach the history behind something, to…
  • Allow ourselves the freedom to think, create and critique for ourselves.

What Constitutes Education For You?

21 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sarah Bean
    Nov 03, 2011 @ 10:30:34

    I would add to your list two other goals to education.

    Teaching students how to learn on their own. How to follow a question where it leads, how to read and dissect what they read, how to argue both sides of an issue on their own. “What do you think? Now argue the other side. ”

    Also, I think it is important to teach kids to entertain themselves. How to have something to do. Only stupid people get bored. Daydream, read, write a play.


  2. Jamie
    Nov 03, 2011 @ 11:31:22

    As a previously homeschooling mom we taught first “how to learn.” (which pro Ed successful) we also often employed “interest based learning”.


  3. Roy A. Ackerman, PhD, EA @Cerebrations.biz
    Nov 03, 2011 @ 12:16:01

    Sarah has it right.
    Nowadays,we teach children to the test. We give them multiple guess exams.
    We need to teach them how to learn. How to use the library. How to seek information. How to assess the information found to see if it is data or trash.
    Given that background, everyone can stay educated and informed. The skills learned as a child will provide the means for the rest of one’s life


  4. Anonymous
    Nov 04, 2011 @ 08:28:12

    I am relieved that there are still educators out there who “get it”. I applaud all who are not only interested in the future of education, but engaged in the dialogue. Personally I want that dialogue to turn into commitment and action; lets get back to what our students need, not only so our nation can compete and thrive economically, but to have citizens who are curious, creative, and able to pursue their own passions. Teaching to a test will never, ever accomplish that goal. And most frightening? The very first question asked about Common Core is, “What will the assessment look like?” What have we done to a generation of teachers and students?


  5. maggievt
    Nov 04, 2011 @ 09:09:23

    I am one of those educators (music, so I have been a ‘special’ my whole career) who is getting out of public schools.
    I would also add ‘Accessibility of experts’ for lack of a better way to phrase it. It wasn’t until I had a music teacher who STILL performed that I was turned onto music. I watch people (of ALL ages) light up when they get to speak with, watch, those who have made a certain thing their lifework, whether music, race cars or carpentry. The ability to actually engage with these folks is a huge turning point for many people.


    • bornstoryteller
      Nov 04, 2011 @ 09:29:27

      Thank you Maggie. Yup..mentor and partnerships…that is one that easily fits on my “all ages” list.


    • Pia Connors
      Nov 04, 2011 @ 21:24:49

      I think you hit on a very important aspect here. Far from all teaching is done through a certificate. THere are endless possibilities to learn from everyone around you. Teaching and learning should not be confined toa classroom-it is an attitude by which we apporach life and other people.


  6. JR Nova
    Nov 04, 2011 @ 11:49:49

    I can only say that our public education system makes me very sad. Sad because I was forced to go through it 😦

    Great quote, too.


  7. jane shepherd
    Nov 04, 2011 @ 16:47:43

    I am a teaching assistant in an english school and I agree with everything that has been said here. so much of what we do in our schools is “teaching for tests” and because our governments are so “performance ” focussed, exam results are what schools are rated on . Our “Raising Achievement Department” (what used to be called Special Needs Department) has a really good success rate with helping our students achieve much more than was expected of them. But because a lot of them are never going to get A s or B s in exams it doesn’t look so good on the school results list. Our senior management have recently decided to start a new system where the important thing is how they learn so we are supposed to ask questions of them all the time to see to get them to think more about what they are doing.Sounds good to me but I suspect that it will take a while for it to get going.


    • bornstoryteller
      Nov 04, 2011 @ 19:10:53

      Jane: The whole idea of working towards test scores is NOT good education, and we all agree to it. Sadly, the ones who need to hear this will most likely never read this blog.

      If you don’t mind, would you check back and let me (us) know how the new system progresses? Thanks.


  8. Pia Connors
    Nov 04, 2011 @ 21:20:08

    Good question. Education must do more than disseminate knowledge. Knowledge without moral judgment “only makes a more clever devil” (C.S. Lewis). Education must include the ability to research, reason, relate and record (Noah Curriculum). The ability to ask pertinent questions is as valuable as giving pertinent answers. The ability to convey information in ways that are clear and elevating. Real education conveys to you a sense of who you are and inspires you to self-educate. Those are some of my thoughts.


  9. zencherry
    Nov 05, 2011 @ 18:41:23

    I LOVED this post.
    How about: Applicable knowledge that is learned through trial and error through mentorship. And might I add…a physical see-touch-do approach? Not everyone has the same learning methods. Some read and know it, some hear and know it, some do and know it. If I remember correctly, there are actually 5 ways of learning and my brain is only pulling up 3 at the moment.
    Excellent post Stuart. EXCELLENT.


  10. Trackback: Would You Like Fries With That? « bornstoryteller

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