Traditional Schooling - Is there Still a Place for It?

May 7, 2014 - 6:38pm

Is traditional schooling necessary for all students?

If one looks at dropout rates and poor attendance, let alone boredom and challenging behavior, why is traditional schooling mandatory? Learning is mandatory! And by the way, the basic skills of math, reading, and writing are mandatory. On a continuum of being functional in society through to contributing to society on phenomenal levels, there has to be more diverse ways to learning than sitting at a desk and complying with what might be considered dull and irrelevant parts of the curriculum.

Let’s not start with students who have no aptitude in academia but have sparkling potential with hands-on learning. And let’s not forget students who know what they’re interested in but have no outlet to exploit that potential in the traditional school setup. Then there are students who are like fish to water in academia and are too self-driven and self-directed to be slaves to traditional learning. In fact, they are often told not to work ahead of the class, as they’d be bored. A paradox indeed.

Different ways to facilitate learning in different contexts need to be explored. The idea of same-age learners being at the same cognitive level is becoming more of a myth in this age of technology. There is so much diversity in young children today from an early age that if they are not stimulated in ways that suit their individual learning aptitudes, abilities and interests, then valuable time is wasted in their potential to learn and thrive.

There needs to be more meaningful engagement in learning, with ongoing career guidance and support. With technology and programs out there, everything that needs to be learned is accessible, with efficient facilitation. If one goes into Khan Academy, for example, learning is at the learners’ own pace when the learner is ready. Teaching is explicit and allows the learner to go back and forth till it’s understood. It can be repeated as often as possible and done in the comfort of one’s own space.

You’re probably thinking, what about the underachiever? Apart from the learning-challenged, have you ever thought about why they’re underachieving in the first place? It’s often a result of being required to learn what is irrelevant and inappropriate, in an unfulfilling ‘under duress’ educational journey.

In the traditional classroom, the challenged are the learners who need to work at their own pace, the behaviorally challenged who are bored, and learners who are unable to make a connection with the traditional curriculum. Forcing history and science jargon through minds when, for example, aptitude and interest lies with mechanics or construction is meaningless and ‘combative’. People will learn more about world history and science because they choose to in their own time. In this way, learning takes on a whole new meaning.

In all this, educators will be doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing, and that is enhancing the lives of people through meaningful facilitated learning, and not focusing most of their valuable energy and expertise on how to get a student to sit on that chair and be ‘appropriate’. Let’s not be oblivious to all those creatively fantastic jobs being created, discovered through creative thinking, via non-traditional learning.

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