Up till a couple months ago, education didn’t look that different from what it did a hundred years ago. Classrooms crammed full of students learning the same thing at the same pace. Underappreciated teachers spending decades teaching the same subjects. Parents constantly stressed about their child’s education, moving houses if they could just to be in better school districts, some spending small fortunes on after school and summer programs. It was how we educated ourselves.
This was a system built in a time when schools were our only storehouses of knowledge and going to school was the only way to gain access to it. But that is no longer the world we live in. Knowledge is now accessible to anybody who wants it. The goal of a good education in this world should be to get people to want it.
Blueprint For A Post-Pandemic Education
- Personalize everything. No more arbitrarily lumping together classrooms full of students into the same curriculum, forcing them to learn the same thing at the same pace. We have the ability to customize learning to fit each individual’s needs and should do everything we can to take advantage of that. There already exist multiple online learning platforms that teach a variety of subjects better than most teacher can.
- All active learning should be task driven. No more lessons where you jot down notes off a board. Rather, students are assigned tasks to complete and given all the tools they might need to figure out how to solve the problem. (3d printers, virtual learning environments, interactive displays, a connection to labs and research facilities all around the world, etc.)
- Passive learning should not be rigidly structured. Students should be given a topic to learn about and a variety of educational materials to pick from to help them learn. It should be up to them which they want to use. (podcasts, videos, books, virtual tours, etc.)
- Teachers become facilitators of learning. Rather than lecturing, they go from student to student, helping them figure out how to learn what they need to know. Teachers no longer need a deep understanding of the topic they are teaching, but they should know how to learn about it. When available, students should also be supplied with their own virtual learning assistant to answer any question they may have and help them stay on task.
- Classrooms need to be adaptive environments. No more square boxes with rows of desks, classrooms should be spaces that promote curiosity while fostering creative social interaction with peers.
- The goal of education is not a grade. The goal should be to make students literate in all core domains of knowledge and fluent in their selected few. But crucially, they need to understand that the world is not divided into discreet subjects called Math, French or History, and that none can be understood in isolation.
- No subject is beyond anyone. Lies are repeated that some people just can’t do math or can’t draw. What should be taught is that a certain level of literacy in any subject is attainable by everybody and necessary to be able to fully appreciate our world.
Gone are the days where you pick a single subject, learn what it takes to turn that into a profession, and do that one thing for the rest of your life. The ability to adapt and learn anew needs to be fostered in everyone.
This pandemic is our opportunity to re-imagine our world. To do so we must start where meaningful and lasting reforms always have, education.