I just read this post by Andrew Barras, aka “crudbasher”, and was inspired to write this comment, which, turned into a post:
In his post, “Crudbasher” said, “Too often we confuse education with learning. Education is a process, learning is what we hope happens during that process. It is that simple. We keep adding more and more things to the process but the learning isn’t improving. I believe that is because the purpose of the public education system is not to have children learn things, it is to sustain itself,”
I was nodding my head in agreement up to the last 3 words. I think he is completely correct that there is a difference between education and learning; just because the students are in the class does not mean that they are learning. The same way if two people are having a conversation and one of them is doing the talking, it doesn’t mean the other person is actually hearing what is being said, even if they are listening.
I think the problem with some (I won’t say all, that would be over-generalizing) public education is that there are too many constraints put on the teachers that prevent them from teaching so the students will remember it and use it once the test is over. Too often assignments are given that have little purpose other than to satisfy a need for a grade and once it is handed in, the teacher sees it, returns it to the student at some later date (making it completely irrelevant by the time it comes back) and then it is tossed in to the garbage (again, not every public school and not every public school teacher because there are many excellent ones out there who are doing exciting, problem/project-based learning with their students, but this is not the majority).
Additionally, often what is being tested and assessed does not involve critical thinking on the part of the students, rather the working memory of that student. Often times teachers and schools are using programs and books that have pacing schedules included leaving them no time to “play around” or spend time on a unit until it is mastered. I have heard teachers say that if they spend more time, they will get behind. How does that help the student learn the material? Of course there are some students who will get things the first time they are explained, but what about the others, the ones who need it explained differently, the ones who need more time? They are being “educated” because the information is being presented to them, but are they learning it? Could they explain it? WIll they even remember it next week or even next year?
I suppose the ones being sustained are the companies who create the books that the schools use. They are the ones who say that a math lesson should take x amount of time if it is done according to the plans.