Written by Dr. Ellen Abramson Conner, former NewEarth University Research Coordinator (2018)
As we emerge from our recent growth spurt, dazed and confused, Education, on all levels, finds itself in desperate need of an update. It is time to retire the broken industrial education paradigm. We are evolving, individually and socially, and our academic institutions must become better adapted at engaging and nurturing humans of all ages rather than continuing to inhibit our collective potential.
Having come into teaching high school science via alternative certification and seven years of doctoral research in Cellular and Molecular Biology I find the push-back to change and trying new things (inside and outside the classroom) unsettling on every level of academia. As a teacher on the front lines of the learning process I began to understand several of the reasons why: theory versus reality, diffusion of responsibility, too many responsibilities, not enough compensation, not enough time, limited resources, and restrictive standardized testing are all valid reasons to become disillusioned and apathetic to embracing new ideas or innovating and implementing them in the classroom.
Those I see doing so, despite these reasons, continue to inspire me and they all have one thing in common. Not what they teach, how they came about teaching, or how long they’ve been teaching, or even that teaching is their main profession, but they are all devoted to being life-time learners. They all find ways to integrate the things they are passionate about into what they teach/share, and that passion, whether shared exactly or not by those they teach is infectious.
Relevancy is key and the only way to stay relevant is to keep learning.
In my experience, making content relevant is crucial to inspiring lifetime learners, but while relevancy is a common teaching buzzword thrown around alongside student ownership and learning targets it seems to get grossly underestimated and overlooked. Making content relevant, relatable, move from content memorization to contextual discussions, contributes volumes more to both student and educator’s learning experience but the current industrial education system is not capable of providing this, across the board.
The industrial education paradigm is outdated and not teaching our children how to think!
Instead, it teaches them how to sit in a room, pay attention as much as they need to maintain their rank, if that, and then find ways to disengage with social media and other bread and circuses, tuning their teachers in and out as they please, further completing the already box within a box within a box that is our overly standardized, compartmentalized education system. The current industrial-based education priorities are giving rise to a generation of disengaged achievers, some call them entitled.
They are. To a better education.
The compartmentalizing industrial education environment and the systems they operate on remain virtually unchanged from the form they took in their infancy during the Industrial Revolution. This Factory Farm model now acts as tunicate left on too long, anesthetizing our youth’s potential into censored apathy, thereby greatly inhibiting the potential of our entire species.
Yes, education is that important. Important issues often come with admin and experts telling us how but not why something needs implementing, whether it be this new-fangled device to track and increase student engagement or badge readers on the doors that track when you enter and exit the building. What those admin and experts don’t tell you is the data that device tracks speak to enrollment, yours and your students. And every day when this weird bell goes off, the government wants a snapshot of your class numbers. This is one of the bureaucratic metrics, used in industrial education to determine which schools get funding from the Department of Education.
This is just one variable within the current education system that equates students to cattle.
Instead of improving education for all, programs like No Child Left Behind, which later evolved into Race to the Top further allowed for the conversion of public education into an industry, a factory farm. And like a factory farm the methods and curriculum implemented is standardized and confining so rather than inspiring creative life-time learners these checkboxes produce overly medicated, underdeveloped apathetic drones. By their 18th year they’re either burned out or checked-out, but either way they are stressed out because now all those test scores determine where in the system they plug in next. Are you Grade A or D?
Unfortunately, our higher academic institutions are also not safe from corporate takeover and increasingly fail to provide students with the education they’re going into debt paying for. When these degrees fall short, graduates are left with no skills or experience and limited options for alternative opportunities to gain them.
NewEarth University (NEU) is one of many education-based collectives committed to the development of a New Educational paradigm. Together with several amazing affiliates this academic collective of life-time learners provides relevant online courses, content, and tools designed to foster an informed global community capable of innovating ways to live in harmony with each other and the planet.
We are constantly learning. Every interaction, conversation, experience, book, sign, or show you see informs you and your understanding of the world. We all have something to learn when it comes to living in harmony with each other and our universe, and each lesson learned is an opportunity to share that understanding, thereby contributing to our overall understanding of the world around us. We are all students of life and there is always something new and amazing to learn. The NewEarth University’s library doors are always open (source)! https://newearth.university/library/