Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Education is Boring

After leaving school for such a long period, it just reminded me how boring education actually is. Think of it: Teacher follow some kind of syllabus, give out some exercise at the end of class as homework. First of all, the syllabus probably means you listen to what the teacher said, and try to absorb as much as possible. The teacher is trying very hard to churn out as much fact as possible, where the fact might be useful but just plain boring. Then we are made to copy some boring notes, without knowing what is the purpose or usefulness of this piece of information, just because we are told to do so. Then we are made to do some stupid homework, where we have no idea what is the benefit besides being a chore. Then we went for some stressful exam, so that we don’t fail and being kicked out from school with low self-esteem.

I mean, when I was young, I have no idea what is the purpose of education during my primary and secondary school years. I was told I need to study so that I can get a good job and earn good money when I grow up. I go to school because my parent would be very angry if I didn’t. I excel just because I want to be better than others, not because I am passionate is perusing knowledge for some greater cause. Only when I went to college, I finally know what I want to learn and what its purpose is. Then I found education to be fun because it is practical, I know how to apply the knowledge in my life. I finally had a purpose, and I get to do something or create something with the knowledge I have. Suddenly, I have a purpose and am productive, and I am happy.

Let’s go back to earlier education, primary and secondary school years. Perhaps your argument might be the children are too young to understand their purpose or do not have the capability to choose their subjects of interest. Yes, that might be true. But my point is, we should make education meaningful and practical, and perhaps fun as well. The children need a purpose to capture their attention.

I notice in the classroom, the children doesn’t seems slightly interested with what the teacher is teaching, because it is boring and unrelated to their world. Why do I need to learn this? It is boring and I don’t why I have to learn this. I noticed that I paid attention to the teacher though I am not learning in the class, perhaps I have been conditioned to focus and pay attention all these while. But the children naturally sleep; look elsewhere or doing their own stuff. Education is boring, it doesn’t interest them. Sometimes the teacher use a stern voice to force the children’s attention, but we all knows that isn’t very effective in the long term as well.

So, what do we need in our education?
  • Academic is not everything. There is much more in life besides Math, Science and English. Teach the children Art & Craft, Music & Dance, Mountain Trekking and Camping, Cooking & Baking, Sports and etc. I know there are extra-curricular in school, but that just isn’t enough. We talking about 50% academic education, 50% extra-curricular activates. We don’t wanna create book worms that lack soft skill, we want children who know how to enjoy life and love themselves and others, besides being knowledgeable. I only get to really enjoys all these activities when I started working, and I think children should be encourage to develop their passion and hobbies on certain healthy activities, it help to build character. To success in life, it takes more than academic knowledge, so why just focus 100% on it. Aren’t education meant to nurture the leaders of tomorrow?
  • Be creative in instilling purpose and practicality in the process of educating. Rather merely teaching by following syllabus, teach with a purpose and provide example in life where the children can relate to. Lets assume we are learning mixing of some chemicals, rather than just explaining A+B=C, why not explain what is C for and how it could be useful in our daily life and how is it applied in certain industry. Perhaps it might provoke the children’s thought and creativity, and start thinking of ways to make and use C. Basically; the children need to know why they need to learn something, and how they could actually use it.
Sometimes I look at the frustration of teachers and their tiredness; I do pity them and the children. The daily teaching effort already sap out all their energy, leaving little space for creativity and extra effort. Rather than individual effort by the teacher, perhaps we need a Creative System. Rather than following the normal syllabus, they follow the Creative System where all creative teaching methods and practices had been laid out properly. In this way, even the uncreative ones can teach creatively and effectively.

Once I was told: If you have a strong system, you just need an average leader to perform superbly; if you have no system, you need an extraordinary leader to perform averagely.

Hopefully, the next generation of education is much better than what I had gone through and what I had seen today.

1 comment:

larry said...

It's a good idea to give young people a purpose to study more than just getting a good job. I've thought that most of us do not know what to do with all of those subjects we learned about in school - English, literature, poetry, math, history, political science, cultural classes, etc. We often only look to what seems to interest us or what makes sense to us - at the age of learning we are focused on us - many stay focused on just 'me' for quite a while.

Someone should show students how some of what they study can be used or is practical later in life. When I've tried to show my daughter how some things she is learning will be useful later I have to remember that she is not so interested in this now. I still tell her over and over and try and use today's examples in school, in the news, in the local commuity to show her how ideas she learns now can be used practically. There are those stories of teachers taking students to an amusement park to demonstrate the laws of physics. Those are few and far between.

In the mean time parents can help their teens learn that even boring subjects can be useful. They can use friends, co-workers and other professionals to show how they have used some of what they were bored about in school. In the long run, students need to learn to study ideas, any ideas wherever they run into them - school, friends, parents, society, etc. Many students don't know how to study and too many subjects are frustrating so they become boring. They've heard the ideas over and over and they don't know how to connect these ideas with those ideas. A good resource to help students learn is at It is a place with books for teens and adults (Jr. High thru College) their parents and adults returning to school to get help. Most of us were not taught to study. There's no time like the present to learn. There's too many ideas we must learn and many new ideas we need to learn what to do with.

Education is what helped us go from being hunter-gatherer - agriculture - industrial revolution - service economy - information economy - and now a conceptual focus. Ideas take us everywhere.