Imagining a better education

It’s unlikely that many secondary school students will read an article in today’s Observer on the importance of critical, creative, imaginative and analytical thinking.

If they did, they might demand a better education from their teachers rather than reluctantly being spoonfed what their teachers hope will come up in the exams.

There are many good teachers out there, but probably alot of mundane or poor ones.

They too bear a share of the responsibility for standing idly by as the numbers of students taking higher level maths and science decreases even further. By doing so, they betray their role as educators.

If they allowed themselves a little critical thinking, they’d realise that spoonfeeding students leaves them with a sour taste in their mouth about the act of learning.

Is it any wonder that more and more youngsters want a media career or to become a celebrity?

This is at a time when the ability to think critically, creatively, imaginatively and analytically will arguably, more than anything else, determine their futures and their ability to earn a living in a rapidly changing world that is becoming ever more competitive.

These are the two key sentences in the article that stand out:

much of a child’s education is spent on low-level thinking. The result is, sadly, that the imagination and potential of too many children are dulled.

That message is all-important.

As the beginning of another school year approaches, I would encourage those students who are increasingly aware that they’re receiving a bad education to organise themselves and to do something about it.

Your teachers, the majority of whom are members of a teaching union, aren’t afraid to go on strike when they think it’s absolutely necessary.

Perhaps you should do the same.

Come to think of it, if your teachers cared enough about education, they’d join you.

I wouldn’t hold your breath, though.

Update:

This issue is one of several that will be discussed in October at a talk entitled: ‘What’s Smart About Ireland’s Smart Economy’ the Royal Irish Academy as part of Innovation Dublin Week 2009.

Do we need to fundamentally rethink our approach to the teaching of critical thinking and the arts in our schools to create the basis for a genuine ‘smart economy’?

More details here.

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