Training for our Collective Future starts in Primary School!
This is a short blog about why education should prepare us for what the world needs, and not prepare us for a corporate job. And how to do that.
About two weeks into my first year at primary school I gifted my teacher a drawing. It showed the classic house, stick people, clouds and sun. She accepted smiling, but, after one look, criticized it, "You draw clouds with a blue pencil." What!? Outside I saw bright white clouds which I had tried to draw as such on a white piece of paper. I've forgotten what my solution was, but how could I be wrong and a blue pencil right? This teacher disavowed my perception. I decided then and there something like: "Well lady (read all of education), if it's between what you tell me, and what I see, I'll trust what I see myself, any time."
Why did she disown my own experience and research? Why did she treat her solution as the right one? What's this educational fixation on 'the right answer? Life and art do have millions of valid answers. I believe that training by returning the right answers doesn't prepare you for life at all. It prepares you to 'do what's expected of you.'
In time I've become a creative and educational innovator, experimenting in many fields. I rethink 'how things are always done.'. Many modern-day start-ups do the same. But they are hindered by 'right answers', and not only from authorities, also from within. Having made hundreds of tests, they often seem to focus on: "What is expected of me here? What (right) answer do 'they' (clients, bosses, authorities) expect me to give?"
And, I think, this damaging preparation for life, now also threatens our world.
When education prepares young people for the world as a fixed reality, then it has to fail.
When educators act as all-knowing authorities of life as it is, then it has to fail.
Our world currently has very urgent questions that need creative answers and quests for change. How will we deal with the rapid decline of our ecosystems, climate change, the fast-growing gap in wealth, possible and possible unemployment for millions due to the rise of robots? We must stop training youth to just join the ranks of the system that created those problems.
The core question should be: How do we prepare our youth to discover the solutions to the problems we created? We need to have them sort out what they are willing to try as solutions. And that training can start at the age of five y.o.. Because that's when my inventive mind was willing to try out its own solutions to a clear problem. How to draw white clouds on white paper? Such inquiries should be supported, not cut short! Because play and experiment is where the change begins and new, better solutions can be found.
NB: This blogpost featured before in 2019 in "Back to the Sandbox" by Jaroslav Andêl, Editor, University of Minnesota Press. A inspiring book on Art and Radical Pedagogy. Due to copyrights it can't be reposted by third parties. ISBN: 978-1-5179-0752-5