What next?

Education is in shambles and there is clearly some problem in the system. Even if we don’t agree on the exact root cause of the problem, although the “grouping everyone into one big program” argument sounds pretty sound to me, we do agree that there is a huge problem with what is going on. However, we are students after all. Any real reform that we can do will not be experienced for many years, at least until after we graduate or even when those pesky younger cousins graduate. It is hard to change the direction of such a large program with so much inertia, and while it is possible, it would take lots of time and lots of money.

Still, it is in the face of true difficulties that the beauties of humanity can most aptly be shown. Even if we are not able to change the entire world immediately, there are so many small steps that we can take in order to incite an air of revolution. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, so we better make sure that step is towards the right direction.

Clearly, it is very difficult to change the attitudes of others, as anyone who argues with their parents should know. To persuade someone, especially someone older or who thinks has more experience, is a Herculean task. Just as difficult, at times, is to persuade yourself that you need change as well. To believe wholeheartedly that you need to change, especially if that change requires more work, is more difficult. At least when you argue with others, you can attribute your failures to the opposing party’s lack of understanding; arguing with yourself doesn’t work like that. We know exactly where we are slacking off, or exactly where we are making excuses for ourself. And the weight of guilt can far exceed any kind of disappointment of not persuading others.

However, such a shift in the world begins with us.

Such happy kids. Little does the world know that they are planning a revolution.

I have always been a believer in the term of “living by example”, where the most impactful actions you could do stem from your own daily actions. Others notice, if not constantly, but at least once and twice, and in those brief glances, if you persevere with doing the right thing, you could get them to reevaluate how they carry out their daily actions. Therefore, if we as students begin to take a greater interest in our education, wouldn’t teachers take notice? Wouldn’t the discouraged eventually see that something is different? Wouldn’t your cause eventually spread to others?

I understand that “taking interest in education” could mean completely different thing to different people, however. For me, interest begins at an intellectual level, of analysis and comprehension in a classroom setting, but for others, it could be online trolling through wikipedia or messing with code, building your own programs, or training oneself by writing a poem every day. The commonality to all of these is that you would be applying your energies to something that may not come easy to you, but something that is of interest of you. That is what differs education and procrastination in my mind; it has to require effort, and it has to be something that you want with your heart. To feel passionate and to achieve that passion are two of the greatest gifts of humankind.

Side note – Perhaps that is one of the reasons that teenagers come under fire so often, because we are either not able to do something useful with our energy, or expand lots of our energy on something that we don’t want.

I’m not advocating that we should ignore all of those subjects we find to have no interest. Instead, I believe that having a greater goal in our lives could serve to exemplify those desires to know other subjects, or to comprehend these ideas in addendum to what we already understand. By opening pathways in our learning process, we would inadvertently discover renewed interest in things around us.

How should we learn if we don’t have access to resources? What if we feel trapped by the homework that surrounds us?

First of all, I want to tell you all: That feeling of trappedness? It rarely actually comes from the homework around you, but from the attitude that you have towards the homework. ALthough there certainly is an enormous amount of pressure stemming from the (somewhat ludicrous) amount of notes or worksheets we have, our attitude to tackling this homework is just as essential. Therefore, I believe that if you really became engrossed in doing a good job in education, you would eventually succeed in all that you do.

Through starting with yourself, could you reach out to others. By becoming filled with the brim by knowledge and desire for knowledge, we would overspill some of our interests to the ones around us. Excitement is certainly a contagious emotion, and from a single seed, an entire school can be infected with reform.

There is reason to be hopeful that things will change in the future. Even if we don’t see it directly, there are more groups battling the common ideology of our method of learning. Take, for instance, the immense online college learning process. No, I’m not talking about those cheap knock-off colleges that promise you a “degree in your pajamas” or whatever they promise in late-night television, I’m talking the real deal. My personal favorite is still Udacity, a computer-science oriented course chartered by Stanford, with classes in 5-minute bursts hosted by YouTube and immediate exercises after each lesson. I’ve heard that the UCal schools are also transitioning to host a much more comprehensive program as well, while Ivy League schools, such as the “great and almighty”  Harvard, are offering some of their most popular classes online, where even a simple high school theory of knowledge class can access one of the greatest ethics professors talk. (ethics course by Michael Sandel if you are interested. Thanks Mr. Becker!)

Below the college level, there are things happening in the high school level as well. People are realizing, albeit very slowly, that the AP system doesn’t work for everybody. The International Baccalaureate system, while having MANY of its own faults, has a more comprehensive evaluation system throughout the year to attempt a better view of the world. Even though there are still various hoops to be jumping through, it is clear (to me at least) that this system that has evaluations throughout the year just might be better well-rounded than a single-shot test to determine everything.

Of course, it would be amazing if we could organize something big, bigger than the blowouts of the 50s, bigger than the transformation of science imposed by the Cold War and the birth of STEM, bigger than the full integration of schools and the thorough accpetance of all people to education, regardless of sex, gender, or race. It would be amazing if we were able to petition the government to assist us in our pathway.

But patience is important, and in order to succeed, we must begin.

Part of a series on Education

Previous: Rant

Next: Teaching

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