Mar
20
2011

The Future of Education

I have three broad hopes for the future of education. And I specifically mean the education of children, as opposed to adults (which has a different set of requirements & traits).

Personalized

In the future, education should be personalized to each student. Every child learns at a different pace, and through different means. Some are visual learners. Some are auditory learners. Some are experiential learners. Most are some combination of various types. It is important to understand each child and teach them appropriately. I’ve found that most experienced teachers pick up on such individual preferences already, so it’s not a matter of doing some psych profile on each new student. General interactions throughout the school year naturally offer these insights.

Personalized education doesn’t mean the learning process should be slow, however. Proper education must be challenging and push students forward with high, yet realistic expectations. But the right amount of push should be tailored to each child. Push too lightly with some, and they’ll get bored. Push too hard with others, and they’ll get get lost and perform poorly.

Emotional & Social

In the future, education should incorporate emotional intelligence and social intelligence, in addition to academic intelligence. Children should be taught to interact with one another for a common goal, like group projects. They should learn how to compromise, how to listen, how to lead, and how to fail. These projects should encompass a range of lessons, from straight-forward problems with definite answers, to complex problems that require creative solutions.

Admittedly, there are logistical challenges here. Personalizing a child’s educational pace and teaching them group interaction means, at some point, pooling students at similar paces together. That’s helpful for individual exercises, but shouldn’t be the model throughout the school year. Grouping students together can inadvertently form groups like “the stupid kids” and “the smart kids.” Students will pick up on separations like this. They key, I suspect, is to keep the groups mixed up. Pair some of the fast learners with the slow learners. Have the students mentor and teach each other.

The personalized education can come outside of group activities, where teachers provide more attention or support for slow learners.

Parental Involvement

Education doesn’t begin in a school, and it can’t end in a school. Children are learning as soon as they are born. A majority of their lives is spent not in school, but at home with their families. That is where they are learning some of the most important lessons of their lives.

Although there are socio-economic barriers for some families, it must be a priority. I don’t know how a single mother with two jobs can do this realistically, but this should be a goal. Without a supporting environment, children can easily pick up bad habits, unproductive behaviors, and other mental pathologies that can and will erase all the education they get at school.

I would love to see a program aimed not just at children, but at parents as well. Some parents, whether they admit it or not, simply don’t know how to be a supporting parent. Others have no one to turn to. Yet others have differing opinions on how to be a good parent (which is always a touchy subject). Yet, there are some fundamental truths that can be taught to all parents.

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