How to Educate People
Had John Dewey prevailed in influencing how schools should operate we would have vastly different schools today. John Dewey advocated that schools should not look too artificial but should be modelled after the natural environment where children grow and learn about many things in life. Schools today don’t know how to educate people. See Schooling in Modern Society. The most important and maybe the only skill that needs to be taught is to learn how to learn because the rest of that needs to be learned by the child to gain mastery of his craft consequently follows. Children have this natural ability at birth and that is why in just a few years, without being taught, children learn many things needed for survival including the acquisition of complex language used by the adults around him. From an early age he also shows interest in some activities. After a few years in a place called school, the child loses all these. The child who since birth seem to have an effective internal guidance system to know what to do to understand the world and prepare for the challenges of life is now lost, without any direction, just waiting to be told what to do, and accept as true and good whatever is offered to him. This is not how humans thrived since our first ancestors roamed this world. We are being dumbed down by schools as John Taylor Gatto states it. This can be prevented if adults around can help the child explore and study the craft that interests him. With enlightened adults around, the child would surely grow up to be a master of his craft, sooner than anybody would expect. Since schooling was invented about 200 years ago, governments have been trying to solve the problem of how to educate people but they have not yet come up with an effective one until now. Read Homeschooling and Unschooling as Options.
All the child needs is a mentor who is a master of the craft he is interested in and the removal of all the distractions that is deflecting him away from his interests or natural aptitude. In today’s schools, the road to mastery is a very long and narrow road that close to zero lucky ones ever get to the end. They end up being mediocre graduates who know little about the irrelevant things and nothing about the relevant ones as a result of a rigid general curriculum unsuited for the each child’s unique abilities. Instead, we expect schools to adhere to the following principles:
- Schools are places where students congregate according to interest and they are to be taught how to master the craft they are interested to learn or whatever the child thinks they have natural aptitude in. It is very unnatural to group students according to age and move them to the next grade level as if uniform products being manufactured in a factory. Instead, schools should be places where masters will serve as teachers or mentors to those students who are interested or inclined to learn the same craft each of them have expertise in. See Teacher: Artist Each master will only teach those interested to learn their craft, they will not force it on every child. This is why schools operating as they are today are very undemocratic, forcing each child to memorize garbage he has no interest in and prevented instead to have the time and freedom to explore those he finds interesting, yet proudly claiming to promote democratic principles. Schools indeed are establishments of contradictions. The Department proudly claims that it is their mission to produce independent and lifelong learners, and they will post it anywhere to be seen by everybody as if what is stated there magically happens once pasted in as many places as possible, yet when they talk it is as if after a decade of schooling students can’t still be trusted to learn on their own. As I write this, the world is suffering due to quarantines and social distancing protocols brought by the Covid19 pandemic. It troubles them so much that they cannot open the schools and conduct face- to-face classes. I, on the other hand, am elated by the sudden turn of events that my children will be having more time to pursue their interests, except that my two older boys seem to have already forgotten about what their interests and aptitudes are. Of the two, the one who has been a consistent honor student, following school instructions and doing everything the school require students to do to get good grades and be honored for doing so is more lost than the other. One having been in school for nine years already and the other six but I hope that my daughter, the youngest child, will get educated differently but I still haven’t succeeded in convincing my wife, herself an obedient and conventional schoolteacher, about it. If I could get my way by force, or if I could get my conventional wife to understand, I hope that my daughter never sets foot inside a classroom. Modular distance learning for now is okay because it would not have as much of the restraining and impairing effect of the classrooms.
- Teachers are free to do their craft at any time while in school. Students learn from someone doing their work without the need of listening to a lecture. Teachers are artists who can turn human beings into the best version of themselves through the transmission of knowledge or expertise. As artists they should have the freedom to do their craft at any time in school for those gathering around him to observe him working on his craft, ask and get tips or learn from him. He doesn’t need to speak unless someone asks. We should free teachers from being manual readers and automatic transmitters of whatever nonsense a central office wishes to be delivered to curious little human beings, causing them to get distracted and lose focus on their calling in life. Once a student has learned everything or more than what the master knows, he can , go to university or get higher education or move to another master through the recommendation of the former or immediately get out of school to deal with real life using the education he got from school. Education is not about getting grades, pieces of papers with ribbons, or graduation, but about getting prepared to live life doing what the person is inclined to do with it.
- Teachers are hired to stay in or out of school to demonstrate mastery of their craft and willingness to share that mastery. Teachers should be hired to demonstrate mastery of their craft around students who are interested to learn the same and to be willing to share his mastery to them. Interest in his craft is indicated by gathering around him and asking questions or explanations. There is no more need of administrators because there is no rigid general instruction from a central office to be blindly followed by everyone in school, and this would result in savings from the salaries of useless administrators and school heads. Administrators and supervisors are for factories, not schools where masters and learners interact and pass expertise from one to another. Masters and their apprentices may interact with each other in the spirit of freedom and respect for one another. Basic literacies will be tackled as the need arises so that some aspect of the craft to be mastered should be learned. Students are intrinsically motivated because they will understand that learning it is required for him to master the craft he has chosen or has interest in. There will be no bored student in school. Instead of schools giving diplomas to graduates, the power of recommendation for a student to get higher education or get jobs should rest on the teachers the students got their training from. This is why there is no need for a centralized control or a general curriculum as long as teachers are masters of their craft, proven by their work. When we finally leave the factory-modelled schools, we will also leave the practice of evaluating individuals by their grades or the pieces of paper they carry around. Instead, the credentials of an individual is their work. Instead of staying too long in school to please their teachers and get high grades and be labelled a graduate by carrying a piece of paper, students would want to learn as everything as quickly as possible according to their preferences to leave school and immediately face real life and start working with the real thing using their God given abilities and the freedom to choose what they want to be doing.
Students attend school in order to leave as soon as possible. Students go to school not to stay but to leave as soon as possible by learning the craft from the master as quickly as they can according to their needs. There is no need for grades and standardized tests because the individual learner will try to get as much education he needs about his chosen craft to be ready to deal with real life. There is no need of rituals or ceremonies to mark the start and end of his education but as soon as he considers himself capable of doing his craft and earning a living from it he will immediately leave school to do the real thing. The measure of success of schools is the number of individuals who left school to live an independent and productive life. The sooner it can be and the less time spent in school the better. This would reduce greatly the expenses of running schools and at the same time produce better individuals. We don’t need more schooling and more money spent on useless rituals and ceremonies like tests. We would do better with less but we need to be teaching the right stuff respecting human differences or uniqueness in ability. We shouldn’t be wasting our time and money teaching fishes to climb trees and making their lives miserable. We have to accept what they are and let them live their lives happily swimming in places where nature intended them to be. Who says they needed to climb trees? A child for example who loves music will go to school to learn from a real musician(teacher) and fellow students interested in the same, music theory and songwriting. Then they will also learn how to use the available inexpensive technologies to record songs and how to produce, promote, and sell them. They might also learn the laws related to intellectual property, all within the context of their interests. Teaching them to solve differential equations is a waste of their time and a great danger to their lives j just as fishes trying to climb trees are dangerous. Even before they have already considered themselves to have mastered their craft they can already try it out in the real world by doing the real thing. They can already start scheduling concerts, recording their songs, selling them, and therefore learning how to earn a living from their work. The same educational pattern would work for any other discipline or line of work known to man. This is especially important because new jobs, work, or expertise are being created due to advances in technology and some of the jobs or crafts of old are no longer needed in modern society. We have no need anymore of putting a master factory worker in schools to share his expertise in blind obedience and laziness to think because that is not anymore needed in modern society, having been replaced by the more obedient and accurate machines and robots to do the boring factory work. A child on the other hand may be interested and shows aptitude for mathematics. He goes to school to learn from a mathematician who will introduce him to every mathematics then known to man. They might start from what he could understand depending on his abilities and progress according to his own pace and interest. At school he might be learning not only from the master mathematician but also from fellow students who are also interested in mathematics. As soon as they can, depending on their interest and work ethic, they would already be inventing their own mathematics and publishing their work for the world to see. There is no need for grades and standardized tests to satisfy central offices and to justify increasing the next round of funding for more tests and more useless paperwork. School success should not be measured by mean percentage scores on irrelevant subject matters even the test giver doesn’t know a thing about. Students who are interested in learning their craft knows how to test himself without somebody asking him, but master and apprentice at school may agree on themselves to have tests to measure their progress or readiness to continue with more advanced concepts but it should not come as a mandate from a central office who doesn’t even have a clue what is going on. If someone for example is interested to learn carpentry, do you need to give him periodic tests on how to drive a nail for him to learn that skill? You will both be wasting your time. If he is really interested in learning the craft, he will be practicing and testing himself until he can do it properly without any prodding from someone else. The same holds true for any other human endeavor.