Most people have been brought up swearing that education means memorizing facts. Our mutual school experience consists of getting stuffed with all kinds of information deemed important by others that follow some unknown agenda. Then, the cruel joke becomes apparent; all that hard work resulted in almost nothing that could be put to practical use in real life.
I remember a well-meaning high school counselor of mine telling me with a straight face that college was more about the personal connections that you made because, well, the classes themselves were not really geared towards teaching students much of anything that would be relevant in the real world.
Really? And I'm paying upwards of $65,000 per year just to make friends?
Where did our system go off the rails and how can parents ensure that their child gets a real education, not just 12+ years of schooling which has statistically proven to reduce IQ? Yes, it's true but I'll tell you about that some other time!
Back to the subject: the root of the word 'education' is 'ducere' which means to lead, draw, bring. Add the 'e' onto it and you get 'educere' meaning to lead out or draw out or bring out.
But wait! Can it be true? Real education is the exact opposite of what has happened to us over our entire schooling career! We have been force-fed lots of facts but have not ever been drawn out and invited to think, reason, consider and come to our own conclusions.
A super simplified history lesson is in order here: up until fairly recently in the history of the world, there was no public education. The wealthy were tutored at home and attended elite, expensive institutions. Along comes Democracy which requires an educated voter pool. Thus, the need for public education is born. In the beginning it was the prairie school house with all ages of children learning at their own levels and roughly at their own speed. The teacher was more like a supervisor who made sure that everyone was doing their individual tasks and getting along. It was patently impossible for lecture-style teaching to take place.
But, as America evolved from an agricultural economy to an industrial one, with attendant immigration to dense population areas, a huge change in how overall production was accomplished came about. Made famous by Henry Ford, it is called assembly line production which we are all familiar with today.
Tragically, the not-too-bright in government posts decided that this model is what should be used to solve the problem of mass education in public schools.
The ideal scene of a learning environment where a student's natural observation and calculation skills are drawn out and enhanced becomes impossible when one uses the assembly line model to mass produce first graders, second graders, third graders, etc.
I'll never forget my horror when I was confronted with having to teach a class of children made up of Kindergarteners, first graders, a couple of third graders and a sixth grader in a little private school in the woods of Santa Cruz, CA.
I had to throw out all my carefully prepared lesson plans and figure out how to get all the children busy at once without me standing at the front of the class lecturing to them. It was going to take a lot of work.
My realization that I had to get every kid at every level working at his own speed on things that were intrinsically interesting to him not only saved me my job but miraculously resulted in astonishing leaps in skills for every single student in that first year: the normal increase was a 2 1/2 jump in grade level per every 9-month period in that class.
Why? Because out of necessity, I was drawing up lesson plans that introduced only the basic concepts to individual children appropriate to their learning capacity and then sent them on their way to explore and master these concepts on their own!
It was real education! What a concept.