THE modern understanding of the word education is perverted. In fact, if I ask you right now about your education, you would probably enumerate the schools you’ve attended and the degrees you’ve earned. The more letters you can put after your name, or the more expensive your school is, the prouder you are of your education.
We have taken education to mean the time you spend in the classroom, or your government-approved instructional institution (whether public or private) that confers degrees or diplomas on individuals. We have taken education to mean sitting on a desk and listening to an expert lecture on a certain topic, and the measure of your being educated is how well you perform on certain tests that these experts deem you must pass, otherwise you are uneducated.
It is this misconception that has led us to expect great educators to be great teachers, and thus to be great entertainers.
The classroom is only one way to get an education. Listening to a teacher’s lecture is only one, among hundreds, of ways that we learn, and it is not even the most important or most significant. In a survey done among adults asking them to rank their own methods of learning, the number one method turned out to be conversation or interaction with others, and of the lowest ranked methods of learning was through teaching or lectures.
Dan Greenberg said it best in Turning Learning Right SIde Up (co-authored with Russell Ackoff):
“Traditional education focuses on teaching, not learning. It incorrectly assumes that for every ounce of teaching there is an ounce of learning by those who are taught. However, most of what we learn before, during, and after attending schools is learned without it being taught to us. A child learns such fundamental things as how to walk, talk, eat, dress, and so on without being taught these things. Adults learn most of what they use at work or at leisure while at work or leisure. Most of what is taught in classroom settings is forgotten, and much or what is remembered is irrelevant. In most schools, memorization is mistaken for learning. Most of what is remembered is remembered only for a short time, but then is quickly forgotten. (How many remember how to find a square root or ever have a need to?)”
What I realize now, having been both a student and a teacher, is that students barely remember the lessons you painstakingly prepared for in the classroom (maybe they will remember one or two lectures, three if you’re lucky ), but they will always remember how you treated them as human beings. This truth is especially felt when I think about and meet my former teachers, and also when I get together and talk with my former students.
Email me at email@example.com. View previous articles at www.freethinking.me.