In the following post, I argue my viewpoint concerning the statement above. I hope you enjoy reading it 🙂
What is education? I present this question to you with my earnest curiosity because its answer has remained unprecedented. A question that superficially appears so easy to decode with our effective education system, yet has fooled us with its ambiguity. Is it simply opening up a notebook; writing a date and a title; and answering questions 1 to 5? Is that what education is? If we are so adamant that we have cracked the code behind this question, why do we tremble in fear to expose our children- our future- to the real world? After all, the purpose of education is to prepare our children for the real world.
“I’m extremely worried about this generation’s children: they do not know anything about the real world! And by real world, I mean the outside! The world!” This was a vehement response by one of the participants of a survey that I carried out amongst my relatives, regarding the children of the 21st century. And I’m certain that you have encountered this type of cynical attitude towards the younger generation multiple times. And, why shouldn’t you? Because after all, it is true. As much as it pains my heart to shake my head in accordance with such painful criticisms, I shamefully do so. My dear readers, how many times have you spotted teenagers in complete awe of the beauty of this nature? Zero. You have not. Therefore, it is time that we allow our children to spread their youthful wings and experience what real fresh air feels like. The erroneous notion that they will have plenty of time to do this “when they are older” needs to be eliminated because they will not. The need to explore the world; the need to explore the magnificent wonders it has to offer; the need to explore the countless unopened doors; and the need to explore numerous lessons that have not been taught- and may never be able to be taught by the confines of a classroom- is indispensable. How grand are the Pyramids of Egypt? How magical is the Sundarban of Bangladesh? How enchanting is the water of Caño Cristales of Colombia? The answers to these tantalizing questions do not lie in the pages of a leather bound textbook, but rather so in the corners of our thriving world.
However, on the other end of the spectrum one might argue that by sacrificing the traditional method of education we will be severely depriving our children of experience of how to work in a professional environment. I asked five of my friends (who attend school on a regular basis) to sit still on a chair in front of a desk, emulating a classroom/professional work environment, for 15 minutes without allowing themselves to become distracted. And 4 out of 5 were able to do so successfully. Afterwards, I asked my older sister what this result reflected, explaining to her what the environment was like. Her response was that “it is a reflection of how dedicated and responsible workers they will be once they have entered the workforce”. Furthermore, how they will be the reason behind why our economy prospers. Now, I ask you this: what formula (that you were taught in school, whilst sitting on a chair) proves that having the ability to sit still on a chair equates to maximum productivity? After all, for a prospering national economy we would require highly-productive individuals. The real world demands decision-makers, adventurers and risk takers. Imagine: time wasted whilst sitting on a chair could have been invested in discovering another facet of the world that lay dormant in front of our ignorant eyes. Just imagine. Moreover, my Father always told me that “travelling teaches you patience”. I could not agree more. In order to be able to lead this world into the realms of prosperity, one requires the determination and willingness, which time spent hiking through the rocky roads of the real world can only teach you.
The mind of a child has no limits. Unless it is confined. The mind of a child has room for plenty of colours, explorations and lessons. By being allowed to experience education in an environment that thrives on their curiosity to explore will only cave pathways that inspire them. Our children will learn languages and not just be limited to saying, “Where is the cinema?” Our children will be adults, confident in their identity and bravery. Our children will be individuals who will know which is the correct path to take in the face of adversity. These are lessons too valuable to sacrifice and too priceless to be taught in the scribbled pages of a textbook. We must allow our children to connect with the world; not merely stare at it from a distance.
What is education? Is it in the confinements of a square room with rows of painted desks and chairs? Or does it await in the vast beauty of the real world?