It’s no secret that our current education system is flawed. Students are being herded together by arbitrary groupings such as age instead of skill level, they are forced to memorize useless facts that they invariably forget, and they aren’t being taught relevant information to match the progressive society.
The current curriculum being taught in North America was developed by the General Education Board, founded by John D. Rockefeller in 1903. This Board, in effect, decided what and how kids should be taught in schools. For instance, one thing not being taught in school is financial education. Seeing as the Rockefellers are one of the richest families in the world, many people have speculated that this is a deliberate plan to keep people uneducated about money and obedient to authority. In terms of how kids are being taught, there are even bigger problems.
Most kids are by nature curious and eager to learn. However, somewhere along the meat-grinder education system, most become bored, dislike the experience, and are ill-equipped to handle the real world. According to a diagram called The Cone of Learning developed by Bruce Hyland, most kids develop such disdain for education because of how they are being taught. The most ineffective way people learn is through reading—only retaining about 10% of the information they absorb. The second most ineffective way people learn is through hearing words. Oddly enough, these are the two primary ways that students are being taught.
But is there a better way?
According to The Cone of Learning diagram, the most effective way people learn is through real-world experience. The second best way is by simulating real-world experience.
Another intriguing, albeit not perfect, paradigm comes from the Khan Academy. At a TED conference in 2011, Khan Academy founder, Salman Khan, shared the stage with Bill Gates to discuss his new model of learning. The Khan Academy flips the current school structure on its head. Traditionally, class time is used for lectures and small group work, and then children are assigned homework. The Khan Academy suggests that a more effective strategy is to use class time for completing ‘homework’, while allowing the lectures to be received at home. How is this possible?
Currently, the Khan Academy has over 3000 online videos covering a wide array of subjects. By having the videos online, students can watch the lessons at their discretion as well as pause and rewind them for multiple viewings. In addition, the Khan Academy allocates students by mastery of the lesson, not by age. This way, each student can grow at their individual pace.
While this model is revolutionary and proven to be effective, one major criticism still remains: the irrelevance of the curriculum. To keep up with this fast-paced and progressive society, I put together the following list of courses that I foresee as being the most relevant for the education of the future:
- The primary focus is on money, markets, debt, and taxes.
- Students learn about business management, persistence, branding, and marketing.
- Students receive hands-on training with coding and other technical aspects of computers.
- Students learn about clean energy, pollution, and climate change.
- Students learn about ethics, ego, emotions, and relaxation.
The emphasis with each of these courses should be to allow students to simulate, or do as much real-world experience as possible.
Article by Edward Mullen
Host of The Edward Mullen Podcast