Thoughts on Education (Prince EA Video)
Prince EA has been a fantastic producer for years, I first started watching his material in 2014, this particular video on the school system speaks a conversation we all need to engage with, education and informing others, sharing ideas and implementing best practice are key to any future. Whether in a light year, Aztec year or climate year. When people are educated properly around the world we can all solve problems.
Education is a vast topic with many issues, some argue the system’s broken while others say it never worked in the first place. For me I think the issue stems from the lack of open discussion regarding the purpose of education. Years ago the system was designed to teach people topics, get them to specialize and provide maximum value to a growing economy, but that was the industrial revolution. Sadly our education system hasn’t only changed slightly, the manner and style of teaching has adapted at a snail’s pace compared to the economic demands. However, for me it’s more than just giving citizens jobs, it’s about acknowledging the wide variety of opportunities that lay at our feet and educating people on a breadth of cultural, scientific and practical knowledge sets.
Beyond that education is about spreading knowledge, whether through science, religion or other modes. Education is something humans evolve to succeed at, to learn, think and discuss ideas in order to gain a better understanding of the world and our reality. Unfortunately the current education system hinders this learning, forces fish to climb and cats to swim. It’s time we rethink the format of education and change our perspectives on it’s purpose. There is no reason we should stop educating ourselves just because we finish high school, complete an undergraduate degree or become a doctor (medical or not). The arrogance of the educated class occurred when they stopped educating themselves and became comfortable, while the arrogance of the uneducated sprang to life when they thought education wasn’t for them. Education is for everyone all the time!
A friend of mine from Vancouver, Canada had this elegant comment on the video which I believe summarizes the issues and arguments well. Taylor Curran is a true student who approaches life like a giraffe who cannot be caged.
“I don’t think the problem is that people are forced to learn skills and knowledge that they are not interested in, but that our schools are not funded adequately nor structured appropriately to make these concepts interesting and engaging for all students. There needs to more interactive learning: build giant slingshots, use physics to predict how far the projectiles will fly, and then test them on the school field; build a truss bridge out of spaghetti, use trigonometry to guess who much weight they’ll hold, and then test them until they collapse (actually did both of these in school); get out on field trips for earth sciences and biology; do titrations and make cool crystals in chemistry class; use physics and math to write simple video game graphics; or use algebra to pick the best savings account.
“We are taught and socialized to dislike these subjects, our enthusiasm for them is stamped out of us by parents and peers and dull lessons.” – Taylor Curran
All of these subjects are important to developing citizens with strong critical thinking skills and understand of the world around them. And the real shame is that we’ve raised generations of students who say they can’t possibly understand physics, that history is just a bunch of facts to memorize, that chemistry is just a bunch of elements of the periodic table and that they’re ‘no good’ at math so ‘why even bother trying?’
Bullshit. We are taught and socialized to dislike these subjects, our enthusiasm for them is stamped out of us by parents and peers and dull lessons. Because what kid doesn’t love learning about the solar system and collisions, (physics), the Romans and the fur traders (history), frogs and dinosaurs (biology), or volcanos and Pangea (earth sciences).
And I think you see the direct result of this in the wave of populist, anti-elitism, anti-intellectualism sweeping the Western world right now. Because how can you understand global warming if you don’t understand the scientific method? How easy is to to rail against foreigners if you don’t understand foreign cultures or grasp the long historical struggle for human rights? Who wouldn’t hate political correctness if they’d never fully grasped slavery, apartheid, or strongman who wanted to restore lost greatness be, if you’d never learned about the Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini, and the damage that authoritarianism and nationalism wrought on the world in the twentieth century? And how easy would it be to conclude that the elites were screwing you over if you didn’t have the math and statistics skills to understand the barrage of social and economic data and studies release everyday?
If anything, the proliferation of false and contradictory information — or simply the sheer volume of information we’re inundated with — makes a basic knowledge of history, civics, chemistry, biology, physics and mathematics (among other subjects) even more important than before. Certainly, the curriculum can and should adapt to allow more directed and varied learning. But I truly believe that if we are willing to completely rethink how we organize our schools and — most importantly — fund them appropriately, we can start churning out students who are creative and diligent, have great critical thinking and communication skills, understand the world around them and it’s history, enjoy physical activity, and appreciate science and — yes — even mathematics!”