Of Deciders and Limitations of Education
The importance of education cannot be emphasized enough as it is. In the current world, it is practically impossible to live a fulfilling and successful life without education. However, what exactly constitutes education and learning, and why have the education system failed in some respects? The answers to these questions require reexamination of the education systems in our institutions. Previously, college educated graduates were held in high esteem by the society. Indeed, they could change the world, and they did change it, through the education they received. They did not have as much knowledge as people have today; neither did they study as many subjects as today’s students do. However, the education they received enabled them to make significant changes and contribution to their society. It paved the way for people to make inventions, advance in technology, develop many scientific methods, and change their world. It seems that as the country grew and progressed, there was simply too much to learn, and the limited time and space in schools did not give people the opportunity to find any meaningful interpretations to their studies. There is a need to reexamine the education system so that it can provide meaningful education to the students.
The information that a student receives in class can determine the course in their lives, and change their lives in a significant way. Therefore, educators have a significant role in determining the content of what students learn. Content is important, and the wrong content delivered to students will have the wrong impact. In his book, “Lies my Teacher told Me: Everything your American History Textbook got Wrong”, Loewen observes that students do not remember their history, and this is simply because history does not present any meaningful experiences in their lives (13-14). He notes that students learn as soon as they forget, because the history they are taught in school does not provide any meaningful lessons for them. Historians and those who write the history books have distorted or omitted crucial information from the history textbooks. High school textbooks contain distorted information, and this information influences the children as they learn. Thus, the children will continue being misinformed in the process of seeking an education. Schools go to great extents in buying books that do not contain controversial ideas (Loewen 16). They avoid textbooks with information that might make the students criticize their parents or the nation’s leaders. This has limited the information of history available to the students, who have no other way of knowing the truth and complete information about their country’s past. This has the wrong impact on the students. This is because part of learning history is to enable people to learn from their country’s past. When students do not learn certain information, just because this information does not glorify their leaders or their country, they risk missing learning opportunities. They miss the opportunity to avoid the mistakes the leaders made in the past (Loewen 332-352).
The relationship that the teachers and students have with each other is critical in determining what students learn. The teachers, who feel that they have all the information and who feel that their duty is to instill this information on the student, may feel threatened and inferior when they learn that students may know more than they do (Freire par 6). This will in turn influence, what they choose to teach the students, and the method they choose to instill this knowledge. “Some adults simply do not trust children to think. Parents may feel undermined when children get tools of information and inquiry not available to adults and use them in ways that seem to threaten adult-held values (Loewen 296)”. Many people continue to hold the perception that teachers know all and that students do not know anything. This perception has to change if the education system is change in this country. People must realize that there is no moment when one stops learning. Thus, even as the teachers teach, they also continue to learn. Teachers must not feel threatened when the students criticize them, or when they criticize their area of knowledge. This is because, just like the students, the teachers were taught what they know. Rarely do they teach what they have discovered. They should appreciate points of criticisms, as this will give them the opportunity to learn more, and perhaps discover something.
Both Loewen and Friere have noted the limitations of the current education system. They have observed the lies and controversies that exist within the system, but which unfortunately, many people are not willing to confront. With this unwillingness, it becomes impossible to change. Change can only exist when people realize and recognize the necessity for it. It can only be realized when people are willing to admit faults. “Knowledge emerges only through invention and reinvention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry men pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other (Freire par.5).” Our education system is failing because it is not preparing the students to change the world. Rather, it is enabling students to conform to the world as it is. This is denying the students the chance to make the world a better place. There are no great and meaningful inventions anymore. Instead, people choose to focus their strengths on doing what has already been done, only that they do it in a different way. There are no longer any inventions like the computer, but there are improved computer related technologies such as laptops and smartphones. There are no longer any meaningful inventions, such as led to the development of home appliances, but people have found ways of making the inventions, faster, smaller, or more efficient. This has contributed to limited thinking, as people no longer explore their creative abilities and ingenuity.
Freire, Paulo. “The Banking Concept of Education.” Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Ed. Myra Bergman Ramos. New York: Continuum, 1993.
Loewen, James W. “Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History TextbookGot Wrong.” Inquiry to Academic Writing a Text and Reader. Ed. Stuart Green and April Lidinsky. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s Boston, 2008.