The Existential Crisis of Our Current Educational System

Today I would like to take a closer look at our current educational system. I often write promoting the education of our minds in order to better handle life and its rollercoasters. However, the type of education I am referring to is one based on a solid, well rounded system vs. the compartmentalization of our minds, which is what currently our education system seems to incline to. Well rounded doesn’t mean the teaching of subjects which often serve no other purpose than to think mechanically, what I mean is the return to learning about things such as Philosophy, Astrology, Geology, Agriculture, Symbology, Ancient History and others which are just as important as Math, Geography, etc. The subjects first mentioned, can help us better understand ourselves and our world, while the subjects already in place help shape the path we are then to choose.

On the one hand, when talking about social problems, the word education has great weight in various circles, it is a wildcard used to soothe anyone who demands solutions; however, Institutionalized Education is not the cure for all problems…Proper Education is.

On the other hand, within popular culture, education is heavily criticized as the root for problems of all kinds. In the midst of a changing world, where even childhood has begun to disappear with the oversexualization and confusion of what it is to be sensual and feminine vs what is raunchy and damaging to one’s psyche, body and spirit, education faces a crisis which goes beyond what happens inside classrooms.

there are two different Latin roots of the English word “education.” They are “educare,” which means to train or to mold, and “educere,” meaning to lead out. While the two meanings are quite different, they are both represented in the word “education.” Thus, there is an etymological basis for many of the vociferous debates about education today. The opposing sides often use the same word to denote two very different concepts. One side uses education to mean the preservation and passing down of knowledge and the shaping of youths in the image of their parents. The other side sees education as preparing a new generation for the changes that are to come–readying them to create solutions to problems yet unknown. One calls for rote memorization and becoming good workers. The other requires questioning, thinking, and creating. To further complicate matters, some groups expect schooling to fulfill both functions, but allow only those activities promoting educare to be used. Balance in educational aims is a valid focus for educators. This author contends that, in order to achieve balance, educators must start by changing the organizational structure or the ways in which decisions are made. To accomplish a change in thinking, educators must examine their own personal mastery and mental models of education.

When it comes to addressing the problems our current educational system faces, the media and popular culture focus mostly on the superficial; the structure where schooling is taking place, its technology, the “appropriate” way to test and grade students etc. What they seem to forget is the deeper questions, which are: why is education taking place, what is its objective, its meaning and focus; is it serving its purpose or is it producing robotic minds who when looking back often wonder what did they learn after all those years of constant repetition. Let us not forget memorizing something is very different from understanding something; the first is temporary and/or carries no value the other is permanent and has the power to transform the individual and its surroundings. What is the point of speeding up and improving the learning process, when it is not clear what is being learned and why?

It could be said schools are there to train the workers of the future; schools are a way to keep the Gross Domestic Product of a country afloat, but is that entirely accurate? According to Neil Postman a faulty educational system is not enough to lead a country to poverty, after all there are some “developed countries” whose educational system is minimal and full of contradictions yet they still manage to have a healthy margin of Gross Domestic Product.

History and Human Psychology have taught us the decline of a nation or culture is imminent when its educational system is eroded and it survives only on what its predecessors already built. We need to understand school is just one more piece of the complex puzzle of our social fabric, yet it does hold great responsibility and value. Schools implement ways by which they instill fresh young minds with ideas of what it is to be intelligent, successful, truthful; becoming a compass for teaching what is right and wrong. Without a doubt then, schools hold tremendous power, as such we cannot just dismiss its current state of affairs.

Nowadays, schools are mainly seen as a social and economic step, this has slowly created the vision of attending school as nothing more than one more process towards obtaining a better job. A better job won’t equate to an individual capable of leading and helping others to open their minds, rather it creates followers to those whose educational system was very different than the majority of people; instead of opening minds they will indoctrinate them. The desire to be more conscious and empathetic, to think outside the box, to work together without losing individuality, is being eradicated; disposing of humanity and self knowledge while the modern agenda instills chaos under the false guise of being “all accepting”.

More and more people are choosing the profession of becoming teachers based on salary and benefits alone vs the innate desire to actually help minds discover themselves and their worlds. More often than not educators who disagree with the current state of affairs are reprimanded while those who happily follow orders are being praised; salaries are going up while results are going down.

Most schools are subjected and guided by the “labor regime”, those schools which do not subjugate themselves to a competitive labor regime will generate students who may well possess knowledge and skills but who lack the proper “recognition” to get into the common market.

Let’s ask ourselves some important questions, if schools were to lose their power to expedite documents necessary to perform well paying jobs, would people be so eager to send their kids to “learn”? If it wasn’t necessary for both parents to work in order to provide a decent life style, would they still prefer the current educational system over other alternatives? A deeper question yet, if school didn’t give out documents to certify one’s compliance, would we still fail to recognize that more often than not, our children leave school just as confused as when they started? Other than the basics, more and more they are simply learning to study through repetition instead of using logic, empathy, introspection and constructive criticism.

During a scientific study comparing the current educational level of our young vs a hundredth years ago, it was proven our ancestors were better educated (other than technology) and better equipped to handle life than our current youth. Do we dare look in and around and ask ourselves why that is? Has education then evolve or has technology evolved while education has deteriorated?

Proper education then is obviously of great importance yet we are failing to recognize this fact. Education wasn’t always like this, its prototypical form would have been seen as a path for self expansion, a moral and even religious duty; as it was the case for protestants who saw the printing press as a divine tool.

For a long time schools held the status of houses of knowledge vs. learning centers, and books were its preferred tool. Modernly through the internet, knowledge has gone down while information has gone up. More and more people leave the thinking up to others; google has become the almighty knowing tool and precious books which held a wealth of information are harder and harder to come by. In some cases; as it is in certain countries; particular books are banned because they contradict or offer more information than the current standard the internet provides. School/ libraries and its proper mentors are no longer seen as the most appropriate places to seek knowledge, instead people search the internet for information; one could then say that schools are now starting to face an existential crisis. Seeing it from this point of view, one would think educators realize the importance to educate vs just providing information, for in continuing with this pattern, they put their own jobs at risk.

Debates already are taking place on whether or not there is a rising possibility for the dissolution of the Educational Institution towards online learning, as a response to the criticisms and demands schools are receiving regarding students and their different learning styles and interests. Such debates certainly would affect the role of an educator; whether one would even be needed instead of managers who would track the students progress. The role of educators for young children would potentially be no more important than offering child care.

Such debates point out that if schools are unable to meet the needs of music-minded and engineering-minded students, the internet can be seen as a viable tool for bringing together specialized courses with people from different latitudes; a type of social network, or another type of application; an override and separation from the current school system into a compartmentalized system. This could become a reality sooner rather than later; in some cases it already is; since the only thing needed would be permits to be able to issue licenses, titles and others recognized by labor entities.

Schools with their current objective would not take long to decline because their axis are not based on knowledge but on their monopoly on the qualification and disqualification of information for pure labor purposes. Schools are also losing ground within postmodern society, without producing “quality” results to the masses and governments, they are sooner approaching their own extinction by the machine of consumerism. Schools then have become a tool simply because there is no other system in place yet to regulate knowledge and its application.

Schools are now at the mercy of technology, the disintegration of individuality and the promoting of children to grow faster than nature intended. However, such growth is mostly physical while psychologically they remain unable to cope with their surroundings. This has produce higher levels of stress and other disorders which were commonly found in adults not in children. Stress, depression, anxiety and other more serious mental disorders are becoming the norm within children and adolescents; isn’t this enough to make us stop and realize the current educational system is failing and needs to be reformed so as to guide and provide knowledge over vast amounts of information?

People are realizing the number in child cases exposing depression are rising, yet these numbers are often dismissed due to a society hell bent on pushing a child to over achieve on areas which are seen as key areas to promote better income. Whether a career or hobby fits the child’s spirit is not something commonly considered; it’s all about the mighty dollar and public recognition. Such attitude taken by parents only adds to the dissonance within children, as on the one hand children are being given medals for simply participating and doing nothing while on the other hand parents won’t give them room to simply be and get bored…without technology.

Specialists on Child Psychology, Neurology and Behavior, do not agree with the handing down of a medal simply for participating as this often leads to a child losing the desire to do more with his or her life; motivation is killed. Teaching our children to be motivated is very different than pushing our children to always be competitive and stressed. On the other hand, more and more children have a schedule more suited towards an adult, as parents seem to believe their child has to join just about anything and everything; once more we fail to see the difference of providing opportunity vs overwhelming a child. Let us not forget boredom, the process of simply being and doing nothing for certain periods of time, is not wrong but necessary to stimulate a child’s imagination, their ability to think outside the box and to reconnect with their center; taking those moments away are the main reason why more and more children are depressed and borderline suicidal.

Philosophy, meditation and technically all non-monetizable knowledge are put aside and considered useless, when in reality those are the ones which often teach us how to stay grounded and how to think outside the box. We have slowly taken such valuable subjects from the curriculum, this only serves as more evidence that schools have become institutions which serve to provide workers for the job market vs people who know how to think, with the abilities to perform and with ethics.

The subject of being modern and liberated are more and more being pushed forth but lack foundation, that is why it resents anything which would challenge its ideas by asking them to look in and realize such “modern” concept of freedom is only producing more and more dysfunctionality; cookie cutters, same mold, everyone doing and saying as they are told but somehow believing themselves liberated because of their own self degradation.

Interestingly enough, Schools have a historical simile; when the church lost its monopoly on its creed through the printing press, it lost a massive amount of power from which it would never recover. Now that education has lost its monopoly on “knowledge”, its authority and importance are gradually fading.

The fundamental problem education is facing is the doubt many children and young people find themselves having, the question of “why study?” Technology, the internet, online conferences and classrooms are clearly becoming stressful for those who wish there was more or entertaining for those who one day will work with the same attitude, sense and motivation as when they were studying … none

If schools aren’t there to provide quality results by the improving of our children’s abilities to think, feel, respond, then it is predating on itself, for it loses its usefulness and legitimacy to guide minds. Several pedagogues have reflected on the true value and influence of education and how exploiting its true potential and purpose can save it and bring back citizens who are capable of discerning for themselves while being connected. Let us not forget the main objective of education was to help a person discover one’s own potential while learning to know oneself and the surroundings we live in. These type of learnings are no longer part of the curriculum because they would oppose to the current needs of the labor market; however without those learnings, we are simply destroying ourselves in the long term. A society which is no longer being taught introspection by reflecting on the path it’s choosing, is bound to sooner or later collapse for its foundation is fragile. Worst yet the knowledge to rebuild a healthy foundation is becoming more and more scarce.

I hope by reading the above you don’t start catastrophizing but reflecting on our current state of affairs and thinking of ways in which you can contribute to your child’s proper education and the reform of the current educational system. We need to educate the mind as much as we need to listen to our hearts; let us not forget the difference between an educated mind and an uneducated mind, is the willingness to learn, rebuild and expand.

When a teacher encourages the acquisition of knowledge as if it were another product, he also encourages the disappearance of his own profession

Neil Postman

By Sofia Falcone

I passionately believe one person can make a difference. I write from my own experiences and interests. It is my greatest hope that by writing about my own challenges, victories, hopes and learnings, others may feel inspired to believe more in their inner power and to fully embrace themselves!

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