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One-Size-Fits-All Education doesn't

The conventional mass schooling system that evolved over the last two centuries, which has standardized, in the image of the industrial environment that birthed it, what each person needs to learn, when and how they will learn it, and how that learning is assessed has been failing for a long long time. That in itself is not surprising at all - rather than seeing the uniqueness of each child as a gift to be cherished, it sees it as a variance to be eliminated. 

What is more surprising is how it remains to be the dominant form of schooling in the world, even though it has been challenged by many (e.g. Paul GoodmanJohn Holt, and more recently Ken Robinson and Peter Gray).

One of the few silver linings in the #covid19 pandemic — with extended periods of schooling-at-home* — is that it has shone a spotlight on the failings of the conventional system.

* Not to be confused with the misnomer home-schooling, where children actually spend a lot of time out of their homes and rarely spend 6 hours a day undergoing formal, direct instruction

The failings we fail to recognise

Many of the failings of education can be traced back to it being modelled as a competition - so there will always be a few winners and many losers.

The consequences of this include:

  1. Mental health issues (due to stress, and the decline of free-play, and missed opportunities for whole-person development)
  2. Promoting "Teaching to the Test" rather than "Learning for Life"
  3. Cheating - children focus more on how to play and win at the "game of school" than on learning what they need to live meaningful lives
  4. Rising inequalities - The people who most need education to succeed in life are the ones who can least afford it. That's why we celebrate rags-to-riches anecdotes like how the daughter of a brickmaker qualified to study medicine: we recognize that they are exceptions, not the norm