I just returned from speaking to a class (Lifespan Development) at Oregon State University, College of Education. These students are so thirsty for a new way of “doing education” it’s not funny.
I spoke about basing an approach to education on the principles that would be derived when beginning with the question: what do we know about how children learn and develop? When we then enumerated what this would entail, the obvious question came up: “Why didn’t the people who created public/traditional education in the 1800s do it this way?”
So we talked about the influence of the industrial revolution, “efficiency”, and related factors that explain the model that traditional education became. It was NOT based on an understanding of what learning is and how it takes place, nor on an understanding of the psychological and developmental characteristics of human beings.
Of course, the latter was not well known or defined in the mid 19th century… which only begs the question: so once it did become defined and better understood why didn’t traditional education change and adapt to the growing body of knowledge here? To which all we can say is: indeed.
I mentioned “entrenched views” and “vested interests”. It’s complicated, adapting to change is. Especially with a large “system”.
As young people interested in the world of education I encouraged them to go into the world and spread the word about the need to innovate fundamentally, to adapt the traditional model/system to what we now know about human development and specifically the real needs of children.
There were some bright voices and some engaged and motivated ones there. Let’s hope they take this message with them.