Problems With Our School System

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We are now moving from the industrial to the information age which challenges the basic idea of current mass schooling. Globalization, new technologies, and changing demands both at work and elsewhere present individuals, communities, and societies with problems that can only be resolved by reforming systems of education and schooling (Ng & Renshaw, 2009).

It was a good conversation with the kids talking about the social impact of the industrial revolution on education. They started to reflect the differences between the classroom experience here in Oulu with the previous ones.

“Teachers are rarely standing and lecturing in front of the classroom” Naurah agreed with this.

“Sometimes, subjects are mixed” Imad said.

He had just completed his visit to Yrityskylä  ( where they simulated entrepreneurship during the one whole day activity. They spent several hours of lesson at school for theoretical preparation, and then came to the miniature city on the assigned day. The activity began with setting up companies, learning how to assign roles in the company, managing budget, planning marketing, understanding some basic ideas about tax, doing business and enjoy a ‘real’ profit at the end of the session where they can use it to buy candy as reward.

“I like it here. But I miss the food back in Malaysia” Muiz confessed. Well, the ‘like’ is precious.

“Now, do you see how mass production, factories, machines, influenced the way schools were designed?” I asked them.

“Yeah, I can see your point there” replied Naurah.

The conversation was initiated by her question while doing her homework in history. She wanted to explore the social impact of the industrial revolution.

“But I like being a robot because it’s easy. I don’t like thinking because my brain is tired when thinking” said Imad.

He is Imad, cunningly knows where I am heading to, and always find ways to move differently. But what he said is actually interesting.

It reminds us to Danial Willingham’s book, Why Don’t Students Like School:

Contrary to popular belief, the brain is not designed for thinking. It’s designed to save you from having to think, because the brain is actually not very good at thinking.

Thinking is slow and unreliable. Nevertheless, people enjoy mental work if it is successful. People like to solve problems, but not to work on unsolvable problems. If schoolwork is always just a bit too difficult for a student, it should be no surprise that she doesn’t like school much.

The cognitive principle that guides this chapter is: People are naturally curious, but we are not naturally good thinkers; unless the cognitive conditions are right, we will avoid thinking.

What do you think about our ‘metacognitive’ dialogue with the kids?  Have you tried discussing with your kids about the education system?

Hasrizal, Oulu FI