Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Asking Fish to Climb a Tree

The number of school-age children is over 6 million. A few years ago it was 7 million. A drop that is readily seen. 

We live in a world in which the young are rare. Even without concern for this fact, the reality of our schools is lamentable. Writing in a diocesan bulletin a priest working in alternative education reminds the readers of the educational programs of our schools. 

Statistics from four years ago showed that from 4 to 5 percent of the school-aged students are not in school for one reason or another. Half of those attending school are not interested in what is offered or unable to adjust to the teaching environment.

He doesn't know how much has changed in the meantime but in his estimation, it is much the same. We have a high-ranking 10% who are doing well, and another 10% who follow but the other 80% he compares to students lost in a labyrinth and does not believe he is exaggerating. All preparing for entrance into a university although there are many other  possibilities, the system does not permit it.

A world-famous futurist sees the educational system in Korea still preparing the student for the industrial age. Students are spending 15 hours in classrooms and in academies preparing for jobs that will not be around. This, he considers a waste of time. He compares the system to trying to teach fish how to climb trees. There is a need to examine our educational programs and what the students are preparing for in the future. 

Our smartphones compared to the telephones of a hundred years ago are different; the automobile is different from the horse and cart of a hundred years ago. Why hasn't the classroom changed? 

The reason many of the students are not able to adapt to the classroom is not the student's fault. Education is forgetting the students and their needs and forcing them to adapt to a system that prepared for a reality no longer present. 

Education is not to prepare for examinations but to help the students think and open their minds to possibilities. Creativity is an important component of education. Information is plentiful and the classroom is not the only place information is found. With the internet, it is there for the asking. The need to prepare students for the competitive world we live in requires creativity. 

He concludes his article with the thought that our Sunday School programs also need to be examined.  Parents and students are not the only ones at fault but we need to see the new reality in which the students live and prepare them for it.

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