What was/is your experience of school?
David Richard Precht, the German philosopher argues that our schooling system continues to be based on the industrialism of about 100 years ago. We still seek to teach sets of facts to all children of the same age, and then test their ability to recall those facts in examinations leading to qualifications. The intention of the education is to produce compliant workers and consumers who will conform to the demands of industrial society.
He argues that we are not fostering creativity, emotional intelligence or relationship skills which enable communities and teams to work together, and individuals to develop and express their unique talents.
He draws his ideas from philosophy, from neuroscience (NOT materialist neuroscience which seeks to reduce all human experience and cognition to identifiable areas of the brain), and from an understanding of how society has changed over the last few years.
Many of his recommendations are in line with teachings from people like Montessori and Steiner, so he can be understood to be part of a more child-centred, holistic movement in education.
I found myself agreeing with much of what he had to say in a recent interview published in Cles magazine (“Notre école est un crime”). He points out that asking children to sit still for an hour and pay attention is not a good starting point – most children, and indeed most adults, are able to concentrate on one topic for about 15 to 20 minutes (which is why TED talks do so well, and why youtube is the new television), and that one thing we know about health is that sitting still isn’t good for you!
He thinks schooling de-motivates learners and that the average 12,000 hours of education leading to the “Bac” qualification in Europe are experienced as pure boredom by most children.
He also thinks we are not teaching the right kind of skills for the 21st century – we need more innovation, creativity, diversity, the ability to use the internet to gain knowledge and to connect with others, more emotional intelligence and a greater ability to form and grow healthy relationships with others.
His proposals include moving away from classroom curriculae to a more project-based system of education which is by its nature multi-disciplinary and encourages children to pursue their own curiosity.
What do you think? How would you change the educational system?