Changing the Educational System Question 8: What is wrong with today's educational system and how can we fix it?

What are the issues in today's educational system

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid”

- Albert Einstein

Firstly, it is important to define what we mean by the educational system. Our focus here is towards the education received from kindergarten to high school and does not involve higher education such as undergraduate, masters or PHDs degrees.

The educational system as we know it was devised in the 19th century during the industrial revolution. The idea was to make public education a right supported by the state. While we should be grateful to its creators we feel the principles they drew from were more adapted to industry productivity rather than education productivity. Consider the following: we get children to sit in rows, tell them what to do and how to do it for 8 hours a day and giving them a short break to eat. We divide them in batches (year groups) treating them as if they are all the same. Furthermore and most importantly similarly to how factory pushed to become employee of the month, we lure pupils into being competitive rather than collaborative. This principle has been followed so harshly that what we call 'cheating' in the educational system is called collaboration in the real world. We are essentially treating children as goods and education as a manufacturing process.

Stemming from this is also a lack of effective techniques to cater to the different ways of learning, the one size-fits-all approach might be necessary on a plant but not at school. This leaves the educational system unable to adapt to learning difficulties and more generally unable to recognise and embrace the differences between every human being. There are no two identical people yet the educational system provides only one way.

The current educational system is like a doctor providing the same medicine to all of its patients regardless of their sickness

What have these issues lead us to

While this system provided the best option available two hundred years ago, forming as many students as possible for in a way that resembled what they would be facing in the real world, that no longer hold true. The current educational system separates people in two major categories academic and non-academic. Academic people have a higher chance of doing better in school and consequently succeeding in life.

But simply because you have a good memory and a logical, pragmatic way of thinking doesn't mean that you are smarter than somebody else or that you are worth more than them. The current educational system aims to mold people into being academic, asking them to learn the right answer and regurgitate it on a piece of paper. This is so extreme that in France for example, 20% of student are believed to not have the required level of education at the end of middle school.

It’s positive effects on the logical part of the brain are undeniable but what about the rest? How much innovation was wasted by it? Solutions and change come from switching perceptions, redefining paradigms, thinking outside the box. Unfortunately, our system only seems to support this development at university, where the vast majority of people will never go. Furthermore, it is through collaboration and not competition that we are able to work to achieve better things for our society and our world, our educational system tends to forget that.

“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” ~African proverb.

Our educational system has not moved on with its times. Something that only too few countries have realised and are acting upon, Finland is a prime example of a country that has.

The solution

Finland has one of the best educational systems in the world. However, this wasn't always the case. Before the 1970s, when Finland's educational was the same as the united states, it was performing quite poorly on the educational ladder. However, the country underwent severe changes in its system and is now ranked as number one in the world. What did these changes consist of?

What the Finish have introduced is a system focused on helping to create an environment that will prompt the students to learn with passion rather than by forcing syllabus content on them . Their goal is for the children to enjoy their time at school and grow up as individuals who know how to interact with one another and who have had a childhood based on exploring life's treasures. These principles are the ones the finish have been following:

"Less is more"

  • 20 hours of school a week
  • Smaller classes
  • Reduced testing
  • Start school at the age of 7
  • Promotion of collaborative work and socialising
  • 10 to 15 minutes of homework a day
  • Equality in schooling, no private schools

These are some basic guidelines which will help the students enjoy their time at school, grow up as individuals who know how to interact with one another and who have had a childhood in order to explore life's hidden treasures.

How can we take this a step further with technology?

Although Finland's educational system clearly seems to be working very well, it was designed in the 1970 a world where technological advancements were not as prevalent in the everyday life. Therefore, it would be essential to include more technology within our educational system. I have created an animation video below which includes the five ideas which I believe will help solve this issue.


Created with images by jarmoluk - "old books book old" • janeb13 - "albert einstein 1921 sad look" • jarmoluk - "apple education school" • Efraimstochter - "lego build building blocks"

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