Thursday, November 22, 2018

Microstory 979: Teachers

As I’ve said, I think the education system is flawed. This is a major issue, in different ways, all over the world. Each student is expected to learn certain things, regardless of their interests or strengths. Even at higher levels, where there’s more freedom to study what you want, they have needless restrictions. For instance, when I was working towards my linguistics degree, there was no class that taught geolinguistics. I didn’t care about phonemes and sound frequency. I wanted to learn who speaks what languages, where, at what times in history, why it came to be like that, and how surrounding languages influence those speakers. I should have been given the opportunity to look into all that stuff, instead of wasting my time diagramming sentences. With all this technology, that could have been possible, but humans are notoriously fearful of change. The reason we study the way that we do is because the way we do it is perfectly suited to really intelligent people. An individual with a high intelligence quotient does really well when confronted with new information via lecture, or reading, and then evaluated through achievement testing. Not everyone benefits from this, and I daresay most don’t. So why, when only the few function well under these directives, do we do it like this? Well, obviously because people who come up with these methods are smart. Normal people don’t reform education, because we’re generally not in a position to do so. We’re so looked down upon by the elite that we wouldn’t be able to make any headway.

Now is the part where I make it clear that I blame none of this on the teachers. They are teaching under guidelines set forth by others, and coming from a history of having been taught this same way when they were students. To put it bluntly, it’s all they know. To put it more bluntly, it’s often all they’re allowed to do. Teachers have some leeway to choose their own curriculum, but there are still a ton of expectations on the district and national level that require the majority of their attention. Standardized tests, entry exams, and college acceptance thresholds prevent teachers from going too far off book. The arts generally have a little more flexibility, but not nearly enough. At a certain point in the history of the world in some of my stories, education shifts to the future. Students begin to learn somewhat independently. They’re given the tools they need to explore topics of their choosing, and work at their own pace, using AI instructors. They still have authorities guiding students, but instead of calling them teachers, they use the term facilitator, because they’re meant to help their students stay on track. A student, for example, wouldn’t be allowed to spend years learning only underwater basket-weaving. They are still expected to grow, and become well-rounded contributors to society. These highly-tailored study modules are supplemented with instructional videos, group discussions, and group activities, so don’t think of this as dystopian mindlessness. We can do this, but we have to want it. Teachers are great. They shape young minds, and get them prepared for their future careers. The problem is that they’re bad careers. The way we do business on a general level is inefficient, and predominantly meaningless. Most jobs are stupid, and either should be done by a robot, or just not done at all. We should be teaching our kids to excel in their own ways, and chase their passions, rather than simply expecting everyone to be able to solve for X by age Y. I don’t know where we start with this; whether we transition to a more fulfilling labor structure, or if it begins with the teachers themselves, but something has to be done. Teachers have to be allowed to help students be their best selves. The elite can handle anything, so we need to be focusing our resources on helping the average, and underprivileged.

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