My thoughts on education are too numerous to encompass here. I will quote (and edit) some of what I previously said about the subject in this post on my old blog, but overall, I’ll have to expound upon these ideas in additional posts. This excerpt is just a disorganized drop in the bucket, but it’s a starting point.
I have ideas which I believe could revolutionize the educational system worldwide, if I ever make the time to finish getting them out of my head and online or on paper, etc. so that I can share my thoughts with others. I am absolutely convinced that our current educational system here in the United States needs to be completely scrapped and restructured more appropriately and efficiently. It is not a question of if, but more a question of when… because it’s glaringly obvious that our country is falling further and further behind the rest of the world. There are good reasons for this.
From the womb
Education begins in the womb, believe it or not. So therefore I believe it is a good idea to start with the pregnant mother, with pre-parental classes during pregnancy.
It has been speculated and in some cases proven that babies in the womb can learn languages, musical scores and other things. Therefore, to teach mothers FROM THE EARLIEST SIGN OF PREGNANCY ONWARD deep breathing, relaxation and other means of ensuring a healthy baby, it should be done. Nutrition is all a matter of taste, but it is equally important. The choices we make have long-lasting repercussions.
Currently, there are childbirth classes which begin in the latter stages of pregnancy. However, this may be “too little too late” because in some individuals it is a lifetime of breathing wrong that needs to be corrected and taught sufficiently to become habit. Yes: how you breathe is as important as what you eat, drink or otherwise ingest. I read a study which said that ONE HUNDRED PERCENT of heart attack victims were “chest breathers” which means that they did not practice deep breathing techniques. Tell me – are you breathing deeply or shallowly yourself as you read this? Do YOU know proper breathing techniques?
Breathing should continue to be taught and reinforced at all levels of education. Each day of learning should begin with deep-breathing and proper nutrition. Proper breathing oxygenates our tissues better, including our brains. The lack of proper nutrition can make it virtually impossible to learn, even for the most eager student.
After breathing, stretching and general physical fitness should be the order of the day. A little stretching and light aerobic activity gets the blood flowing and awakens the adrenal glands to release their precious energy-producing elixir into our systems. NOW we are ready to learn, and will soak up the material like sponges. Oxygenated, nourished and adrenalated, we can focus more clearly on what is presented to us.
Never too soon
But, you may ask, at what age should education begin? At birth, of course. There are a number of things that can be shown to babies right from the start. Of course, this will vary greatly from one private home to another, but if we lived more tribally, that would be less of an issue. However, I digress.
Children should be tested annually, on or near their birthday for convenience sake, to ascertain what their aptitude and direction is. As that becomes more apparent, steps should be taken to initiate the path each individual needs to travel. While this differs from one person to another, there are certain basics we all need to learn, in order to be capable of continuing our own education.
Readiness, not age-based
Once a child shows the readiness for reading and writing, that is the time to begin. Not at a specified age, but rather, whenever their test scores indicate they have achieved the appropriate level of focus and interest. Trying to teach a child before they are ready is like trying to teach a pig to sing: it’s a waste of time and annoys the pig. Therefore a child may be three years old or ten years old when they begin their reading, writing, math with figuring, etc. but this does not mean they can’t be taught other important things in the meantime.
Without having learned to read a child can be taught the lifesaving skills of swimming, CPR and first aid. Prior to knowing how to read words and write them, many children excel at learning to read music and play beautifully. Dance, gymnastics and other physical activities all require no reading. But the confidence to be gained from these things will assist the children in their further quest for knowledge later as they DO learn to read, write, do math and build the strong foundation for the rest of their education.
So what am I saying here?
In other words, I believe that traditional educational approaches often “put the cart before the horse” and in doing so, sell the world short. There is a better way, but ultimately, as the old saying goes, “the proof of the puddin’ is in the eatin’” so until and unless someone, or rather LOTS of someones agree with me and put these methods into practice, no one can know what good will come of it. I’m fully convinced that it would transform and revitalize learning as the world knows it.
Age-centered learning should be thrown out like old bathwater. It is ludicrous to base education upon the age of the child. While it is true that we can expect most children to achieve certain milestones at a given age, there are studies that have proven that it is detrimental to force a child to read when he is not yet ready. Interestingly enough, when those who are so inclined wait upon the child to express readiness, sometimes they are not really interested in reading until 8-12 years of age. Once they ARE ready, they learn it very quickly and rapidly catch up with agemates who have been reading for years.
A different sort of testing
The system I propose would center upon using diagnostic testing to find each individual’s proper learning style and needs, then group children with similarities together for instruction REGARDLESS OF THEIR AGES. When in life are we expected to sit with a bunch of people the same age we are? After grade school: never. That is not to say that we won’t be required to get up, go to work, perform certain duties, and maintain adequate levels of hygiene and so forth… but I am totally against grouping people together based on their age, once they have left diapers behind.
Speaking of hygiene, since there is no guarantee that a child is being properly taught such things at home, it is best to begin at the earliest possible age to teach the basic tenets to schoolchildren. For example, most people do not know that you need to wash your hands for a minimum of 15 seconds to remove bacteria. I see it all the time in public restrooms: ladies walk in, dampen their hands, soap them for about five seconds, rinse, dry and leave. Likewise, it is recommended that we brush our teeth for a minimum of five minutes, covering each surface carefully before rinsing, flossing and a final rinse with a mouthwash.
Daily life skills may seem to be things which parents should teach to their children, but in the hubbub of daily life, quite often these things are not passed along properly, and the result is another generation will pass along their bad habits (or lack of good ones, at least) completely ignorant of the fact that they are missing something.
This represents only a fraction of education overall, but what I’m talking about here is the framework, the big picture, not the minute details that make it function. I would love to discuss this with anyone who’s interested.
What about you? What are your thoughts on education? Answer or link to your answer in the comments below!
That’s it for today, are you doing the 30 Day Blogging Challenge?