In an earlier essay titled, The Problem with Education Today we talk about how today’s education system seems to be lacking when it comes to preparing students for the real (yes, adulting is real) world. If the purpose of education is to prepare students for jobs in the real world (similar to the goal of the hunter and gatherer parents mentioned in a previous essay), then there seems to be a disconnect between this goal and what is being taught in school.
The world has been changing at such an alarming speed in the past few decades that our education system has been left in the dust. By no means is the education industry the tortoise who begins slow and steady to win the race here. No, technology is just a super-charged, hyperactive hare with no intention of taking a nap. So if we want education to even have a chance at winning the race, the system needs to adapt and evolve with the times.
1. Focus on What’s Relevant
Think about it, what is being taught in classrooms? Are they still relevant to today’s social and career landscape? Remember, we have Google now and it has become such a staple in people’s lives that it has initiated phrases like, ‘Just Google it’ or ‘Ask Google’ into everyday lingo.
Instead of focusing on the memorization of information that will most likely be forgotten the minute a test is over, how about we put thinking and other soft skills at the front and center of education? Yes, it’s not going to be easy because soft skills like resilience, creativity, communication, and open-mindedness among others, are infinitely harder to measure. There are no concrete answers, and it’s not as simple as opening an answer key and checking if something is right or wrong. But in today’s reality they are much more valuable to a person than memorizing what pi stands for or the elements of the periodic table.
2. Maximize Technology
It’s a lot easier to say the two words ‘Maximizing Technology’ than it is to actually do it. Simply integrating technology into the classroom by utilizing e-books or tablets isn’t good enough because then technology would merely be a tool to further traditional teaching methods or are simply advanced substitutes for papers and pencils. The role technology should take on is the transformation of teaching. Just look at what technology is capable of outside of the classroom. Think about the possibilities and opportunities technology has if it were brought in to rescue the system.
3. Look for Alternative Solutions
Yes, we get it, solutions one and two require major shifts in thinking and powerful industry leaders to actually set change in motion. So the question now is, is there a short-term solution? What can we do to prepare students for the future?
There are short-term solutions — organizations like Nepris, Destinations Career Academy, Riipen, 100 Mentors, Invest IN, and OWN Academy to name a few — that make preparing students for the real world and for a career their mission. These organizations focus on the lack of preparation high school and college students have and try to bridge that gap by providing them with opportunities and experiences to help reduce the barriers between education and industry. Think workshops, field trips, mentorship programs, internships, interactive talks, and more.
The Purpose of Education
At the end of the day, it’s these experiences that will prepare students for whatever they choose to do in the future. Organizations like OWN Academy and Nespris open students’ eyes to career opportunities they might not have even considered before. These organizations make it their goal to re-engineer the education system and bring about systemic change to help close the gap between the institution that is education and the real world. Because so long as the education system remains rooted in its past, the more students and teachers will suffer due to the widely disparate needs of society today.
The purpose of education is not simply to learn or to become a better person. The purpose of education is to prepare you to fulfill your role in society. Ideally, education is supposed to ease you into the real world you face as an adult. Ideally, education is supposed to equip you with the skills you need not just to survive but to excel beyond the bubble of the classroom. Our world and our classrooms are far from ideal, but so long as we remember the purpose of education, then perhaps we’re already part way there when it comes to fulfilling it.