A Question From A Listener: How Will Education Actually Bring About Social Change?
Updated: Jun 27, 2022
This past week, I was contacted by a podcast listener. This listener had a question which I think they expected to be rhetorical on my end, or perhaps they meant it as more of a challenging philosophical question, intended for an engaging discussion. For my part, I don't leave questions undiscussed or unanswered - I may not always have a solidified answer, but I don't shy away from conversations or uncomfortable, taboo, or fringe topics.
The question was along the lines of how I actually expected education to start, bring, or further social change. As in, did I expect the system to begin churning out independent warriors with the current state of the world. The short answer to that is no. The current public education system is not designed to create independent thinkers and strong-minded individuals. Looking at this from a neutral and educational perspective, one can understand why that is the case - the public system is not designed to nurture these traits in children. That's not anyone's fault, per se. It is just the way the system was set up.
Let's back up a moment, because some context is necessary for the purpose of schooling to be understood. School, as we know it in the modern day and age today, was "invented" in the 1830s, and officially got underway in the 1840s. Things like reading, writing, & mathematics were core subjects - where do you think the saying "reading, writing, 'rithmetic" came from? Now, imagine life in the 1830s and 1840s - the vast majority of the population were farmers or merchants, and lived an agrarian lifestyle. The majority of students in school were males, and most of them only went to a certain grade level before dropping out, either to take care of their current family or to support a new one. Because of the nature of life itself in the 1800s, and even into the 1900s before the Industrial Revolution, there was no social framework provided within which to teach students these skills. It was, quite simply, teaching them how to read, how to write, and how to solve math equations. There was no levels of higher thinking, no supposition of intended narratives. This was math, this was reading, this was writing - no extra fluff. It was education at its' barest - the logistics of language and mathematical concepts.
Fast forward to today. No longer do we have the bare minimum of educational requirements or teachings. Today, we have additional teachings, courses, classes, and creative outlets that allow students the opportunity to explore their passions and interests - in private schools or with alternative educational options. Most of these things are not available in public school, and so the vast majority of students do not have access to creative or additional learning options that will support their preferences, hobbies, or specializations.
Change happens when individuals are unsatisfied with the status quo. If a child does not know that options outside the status quo exist, they won't know there are other options besides the status quo. The old adage "What you don't know won't hurt you" most certainly does not hold true in the educational space. When educators are doing what they do best - educating - they are (hopefully) instilling the value of learning itself, and teaching learning as a part of the process of life, not as a milestone to be achieved.
How will education bring about social change? By igniting a fire to learn, to ask questions - constantly, consistently, and critically. By empowering students to see that there are additional options, other than what they've been conditioned for, available to them. That's where all change begins - seeing that there is a possibility for something outside of the realm of clearly defined boundaries. Don't know where to start? We're happy to help! Get in touch today, and we'll help your child get on, and stay on, the road to success.
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