Education Adversely Effects Learning

Education is learning put in chains. Chains that are too light to be felt in the beginning, and too heavy to be removed when they’re discovered. Here are a few ways in which education is seriously held back, along with a few suggestions on how we can redesign it.

IQ tests, SAT’s, GCSE’s and Exams all fall under the category of Chinese-dinner memory: Nothing is ever remembered: the only thing that students learn here, is how to forget.

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Every human on this planet is uniquely unique. We are all different in the way we perceive, the experiences we already have (an incredibly important element of true learning), the speed of which we understand and the subjects we are interested in. Therefore, it is arcane that today we have such a system that still operates under the intangible slogan: one size fits all. Where did this baloney system come from? Well once upon a time its wasn’t baloney: It’s roots lie in the days of the British Empire, when they ruled half the world. Because they needed soldiers and men of war, they set up an education system that would fit everyone and produce the same result 9 times out of 10; they needed all the kids to be prepared in the same way. Effectively, they were grooming everyone with the same tools. The days of the British empire are long gone, so why are we blindly still educating our kids in this perpetually outdated way?

Learning can’t be tamed, defined or contained: It is like a free spirit, and it’s moments of magnificence are like bats in the night – unpredictable and very brief. To try to put learning into a box, micromanage it and give a strict schedule is just plain ludicrous. One look at a typical school day and you see: 6 hour days, one hour designated slots given to every topic, very little physical activity during lessons, very little differentiation between the set up of each lesson, rewards for the smartest kids, detention for not doing pointless homework etc etc. Why not days devoted to one subject? Why not weeks devoted to to one skill? By not cross teach by brings in maths, science and PE teachers to lecture on philosophy?

The Anti-joy Of Learning

Schools very rarely teach their students of this almost-miraculous aid to learning. The anti-joy of learning is the phenomena that happens in the brain when we’re trying to acquire new skills, or learn something for the first time. One part of the brain is hating every minute, this is called the anti-pleasure. The other part is telling you to keep going, to grind it out. Now the key here is the distinction between purposeful learning, and purposeless learning. The majority of the curriculum today is a waste of time (as i’ve discussed here), so with good reason, pupils find it hard to distinguish between what is the cause of the anti-joy: boredom or hard-ship. When pupils constantly find things overly-easy, learning doesn’t happen. Likewise when it is boring learning doesn’t really happen either, because although it may be hard, they are not interested.

Tightrope walking isn't the easiest skill to master.
Tightrope walking isn’t the easiest skill to master.

 

The key is to get the pupils interested, and then explain to them why it is going to be hard to learn. They’ll be much more open to learning it, if they like it! To further clarify this point, consider that from day 1 in primary school all the way to their last day of high school, kids are taught many things that really have no carryover into real life, such as the capital of Rwanda, and the theory of Pythagoras. So what do most kids do after this? They live their lives thinking the same way: that they shouldn’t pursue their interests, but rather they should do things that they think they might need.

The Typical School Day

Cramming learning isn’t an ideal thing to do either, because the orientation of intangible space is vital to continuous learning. Imagine actual psychical space in your brain between important elements of the material or skill being learnt – this is intangible or negative space. Being able to walk between into these spaces and see what is being learned from all angles, accelerates learning ten-fold.confused-boy-with-books1

The brains of most folk today have striking resemblance to that of a ever-increasing thick sandwich (probably white bread). An information sandwich. Because of the way a typical school day looks (sandwiching one topic after another), we are programmed until the day we go stale and kick the bucket to live our lives like this. Cramming is a bad idea, period.

P.S. Cramming isn’t the same as immersion, which is typically specialised to a specific topic/skill (such as swimming) or even more typically, a specific element of that specific skill (such as the butterfly).

In the words of Friedriech Nietzsche and Benjamin Franklin, “Our largest expenditures are our most frequent small ones”.

Applied learning outside the classroom is where the magic happens. True learning is done once we start pursuing our own interests. Once we start pursuing our interests, we stumble upon new interests, which take us down new paths. This pattern continues as long as we are in tune with what intrigues us. From my studies of smart people, historical figures and acknowledged geniuses, I have noticed one recurring theme: It appears that great leaners are just incredibly in tune with their interests and voracious in their pursuit of knowing the depths of them interests. This leads them on to unknown discoveries and unfamiliar topics, which again they dig real deep in to and the pattern continues eternally. If you wonder what learning how to learn is, this is it.

Finally, the power of interest can be no further summed up than in the following sentence: No expert in physics does not acknowledge its beauty. Essentially, for an expert in physics to become an expert, he first has to be intrigued by its beauty. Therefore, for true learning to take place, you first have to be intrigued by it’s beauty.

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