Picture this: a teacher walks into a classroom with 45 to 50 teenagers. The classroom is organised in orderly rows so as to make sure students do not work together. Not that it would matter, anyway. Most students haven’t got many options in life but to work for a factory, or simply doing work which requires very little creativity and critical thinking of them. These kids are being trained to listen without questioning, to simply take in what their almighty teacher tells them. They aren’t supposed to think. Instead, they’re merely supposed to copy whatever the teacher dictates and writes on the board. They’re expected to memorise lists and do well on standardised tests.
The scene above seems like something taken from Dickens’s Hard Times. Students were being prepared to work in mechanical, repetitive work industries required. A handful of them would have a chance of doing something else, but nothing exactly thrilling.
This is what schools were for. Preparing children to become adults capable of getting a job in those days. Actually, isn’t this one of the roles of schools? Preparing our youth to thrive as adults? Aren’t schools supposed to prepare children for what they are going to have to face in the real world, as well as helping them develop their full potential? I think that’s the purpose.
Now, look at the world as it is nowadays. We’re no longer in the industrial age. We live in the age of information. Our youth needs to learn how to participate in today’s world. They need to learn to collaborate. They should learn how to think critically, question. Teachers should encourage creativity, not stifle it!
Needless to say, the classroom of today is way different from the classroom you pictured in the first paragraph of this post. Is it? If it is for you, then you’re lucky. That’s not what I witness in any regular school I visit. Are we still preparing our children to work in factories? Are we still teaching them to simply take for granted what the person in charge (their teacher) has to say?
Why is a change needed? Who will start this change? How can it be done? It’s definitely hard to answer these questions, but it’s high time we started thinking about them.