Thursday, September 02, 2010

A Question of Learning Styles: What has gone wrong in education?

Let’s consider formal education and ask a few formal education questions:

  • How many thousands of hours do students sit in classrooms experiencing lectures or lectures, deadly boring activities which bore them to death, which stifle activities their curiosity, and their spontaneously emerging interest?
  • What happens when a child experiences uncertainty about details of the presentation?
  • How many hundreds of hours do they spend reading books?
  • And again, what can students do when they encounter something they do not understand or evokes their curiosity? Will they raise their hands and ask?

Only those who are not easily intimidated. The majority of students, however, learn to ignore all but their most powerful urges. Slowly but surely their experiences at school result in a deadening of school experiences kill their inner sensitivity.

Unlike the way children learn informally before and outside school, the entire educational system discourages them from ‘tuning’ into their own inner learning processes. They become conditioned to disregard their own meaning, their learning needs, disregard their (learning) style and individuality in favour of acquiring machine-like behaviours and uniform outcomes uniform outcomes favoured by the system and those who represent it.

Consider the following: before children go into children learn by formal education, they learn miraculously by developing an inner sensitivity for their learning processes which is their day-to-day experience for years. When they go to school, in the process at school of being taught various subjects, the message they receive now is: what goes on inside your head is meaningless, pay attention and do as we tell you!

This whole dilemma has nothing to do with teachers’ intentions; this is not the issue. The problem is not WHAT is being taught but HOW it is done. The formal environment and traditional teaching methods continually discourage children from remaining sensitive to their own most essential capacities for learning. It’s the overall education experience education experience which turns, almost as a rule, highly energised, turns curious, eager and alive children into mainly tired, alive children into uninterested, uneasy, bored and frustrated students.

This is true for schools in every country I have visited so far, from Finland to Hong Kong, from New Zealand to Sweden, from the US to Denmark. And what’s even more alarming, this unfortunate development can be seen everywhere - despite the school, the teacher, even the socioeconomic family status of the student.

(excerpt from The Power of Diversity by Barbara Prashnig)

Wondering how to put it right? Start here.

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