Wednesday, April 29, 2015

#IAStuChat: Why Do Students Have to go to School?

I haven't published anything in nearly an entire year but am excited to be writing (more like ranting) a little to start off the first ever #IAStuChat being hosted all day on Friday, May 1st 2015. Iowa Student Chat will be one of the first of it's kind for students to discuss their passions and vision with other students. Be sure to follow @IaStuChat for news and join in the conversation using #IAStuChat. I attempted to answer the first question, "Why do students have to go to school?", from my perspective below. 

The all encompassing and never easily answered question, “why do we have to go to school?” It seems like it would be a great life without it, and think of all the free time not being stuck in four brick walls covered with a metal roof and internet that blocks all outside exposure from leaking in and contaminating young brains. But seriously, why?

An average adult and any college spokesperson would spit out instantly that it is to “Become a well rounded person”, but I thought Michelle Obama didn’t support obesity. #badumpshh. A kindergarten teacher herself would exclaim that it teaches social skills that all students need for any job. And the history teacher says that it’s so we can learn from other’s past mistakes without repeating them again. All are right, but what is the true reasoning that schools were created? I once heard it was for creating compliant children able to be overtaken by any future dictator in desperate times.

School is for learning. As a student, I see school as being able to be done in a much better way though. In a way that promotes thinking outside of the box, embraces changing the world, and creates problem solvers by putting students in a situation to be solution creators. As students, school today should be designed, and is generally in the right path, to do more than just consumption of information. The missing piece is action and agency, and that is what I believe will tie together the passion gap of the true spirit of learning and the education received from schooling. Though the first step, it is not the final step for students to just talk and be voices of what should happen but to be change-makers of that talk.

I am by no means saying that consuming and learning information is bad, it is definitely essential, but the way about doing this can be changed a lot. We should go to school to learn information, and once an interest in that is sparked, have flexibility to start taking passionate action steps concerning that topic. Even when performing the action oriented component, there is no stop of consuming information because humans are always taking in everything around them and experiences that are had. By molding the system to be flexible and intertwined like so, a fixed mindset is impossible to maintain because students no longer attend school for nearly 20 years of their life to get an education and THEN go into the workforce to utilize it. To make school relevant, that timeline is accelerated and twisted around to include a life of that.

The part that failure plays in all of this: enormous! Learning can fail and failing is learning, and the faster and more often a student fails, the better off they will be in any endeavor as long as a growth mindset is encompassed alongside. Today’s schools are what they used to be, and that is exactly the problem I have. Students, society, and businesses today are demanding more than ever at a faster rate than ever that within the confines of the current system cannot be met. The true solution can be found simply by truly listening to and working hand-in-hand with students, merging business and industry thinking with the school environment, and surrounding everyone with networks that care. When it all comes down to it, “Learning is life. Education is a system.” and students stand at the diverging forefront of these two opposites.