Saturday, May 05, 2012

"The Great Schools Revolution "

This is a comment I posted in The Economist online to an article on school education.

http://econ.st/IAWu99

"The Great Schools Revolution"


The presumption in this article is that the K-12 structure of school education is okay. The surveys cited only reinforce this view plus relative academic attainment. The reality of life is that you don't need all of K-12 or that level of prowess most of the time. Reading, riting and rithmetic (as a surrogate for logic) is deemed basic for comprehension, the end objective of basic education. It leaves you in a position to learn anything more, depending on choice and circumstance. Re-learning through life is something The Economist's Jobs Special conclusively pushed as needed to survive economically. In such a context, the system needs to be broken from K-12 to many smaller modules with a basic (3R) tier as the "must-do" and the rest being options to pursue at any stage in life. Entrance tests for courses (any) will filter who makes the cut instead of a K-12 diploma. So lack of K-12 at high attainment levels, that discriminates against the less privileged, is broken into an entrance test.
A live example is that of driving licences - that require ability to manipulate a vehicle, comprehend road signs (rules) and observe traffic etiquette (not rules, but good practices)-that bring to bear the 3Rs plus skills (driving) plus life skills (maturity to realise you're driving a one-ton weapon). There is no 50% driver or 80% driver just as there are no 50% surgeons or 90% surgeons.
Additional education modules can be tailored to life contexts. A farming community may prefer children to work on the science of farming as opposed to sub-terranean life and astronomy.
Such a modular, broken up, "do-the-other-stuff-depending...and at your convenience/need" makes it more people friendly plus links the additional doses to some reality - jobs, interests (arts, writing, sports), vocations etc.
The K-12 system in an industrial era legacy of outsourcing that an entrenched bureaucracy has upped into a considerable empire, often in the mistaken belief that everyone should leave school aspiring to be Einstein. Do we bother checking school grades of Usain Bolt or the millions of people around the world who make excellent homemakers and create family contexts that produce Einstein?