If education was meant to prepare one for “real” life, then why is it so unlike reality?
Where else do you see people grouped together by age, then forced to listen and work on 5 to 6 different topics a day (on which they have little or no choice on the matter), and at which they are evaluated and labeled at the end of the year as either smart or stupid (though the latter is rarely said out loud nowadays — instead people say “needs improvement”)?
In a world where people are increasingly becoming aware of the power of free choice and personal responsibility, schools seem to be denying the number one freedom of children — the freedom to pursue their own interests. Instead, they are being told to sit through lectures that adults have deemed as important and basic (and yes, you do really need to know how to factor quadratic square trinomials, and you need to memorize the periodic table of elements, as well as the entire character list of Noli Me Tangere even if all you dream about is to become a world class gymnast).
Of course, one might argue that in the real world, you also often need to do things that you don’t like in order to achieve what you like. A good basketball player needs to put in a lot of work on his body, going to the gym, building up his muscles, stretching, exercising, having a proper diet, putting in hours of practice, and a lot these things may not necessarily be things he wants to do, but he has to do them anyway.
Well, yes, but it was the person’s choice to be that kind of player.
Did we ever ask if our child’s dream was to be class valedictorian at the end of their elementary or high school education? Or did we just sort of push them along that path? As parents, do we respect our children’s choices and ambitions or are they the vehicle to satisfying our own ambitions (or frustrations)?
I believe that if a person really wants to pursue something, he will simply see obstacles as challenges and will find ways to hurdle them by himself. If a person is forced to do something however, even a little hardship will be seen as a mountain too bothersome to climb.
The word education comes from the latin educere meaning to draw out. Ironically, education today is not so much concerned about drawing out but about stuffing in and cramming as much material as it can into our kids’ uninterested brains.
Good educators, however, are people who can draw out a child’s innate potential, who can assist and nurture them as they pursue their own interests. They know when and how to push, and they also know when and how to leave things be and let learning occur at the students’ pace. They understand that they cannot keep watering a plant the whole day in the hopes of making it grow faster. They would only succeed in drowning it. They need to leave it alone most of the time and just watch it grow. Sometimes the plant may need a little pruning here and there, but for the most part, there is nothing you can really do to make it grow faster.
Originally published in Sunstar Davao.