Here, published in full, is the work of one of my students. Read it and enjoy (here is the link to the original article by Cassidy Griffith). Keep in mind that these students produce articles every week. You can see why I love my marking as well. The focus is on Canada, but I think it has a rather broad application.
Why Learning and Education Are Not The Same: The History of Societal Dictatorship and the Reluctance to Change
Compulsory education has existed for almost a century; however, the paradigm shift in Canada was not originally intended to force the “acquisition of academic” information (Gaffield, 2015). The school system in Canada was developed in the early nineteenth century as a means to solve societal problems including crime, poverty, and homelessness (Gaffield, 2015). Originally, funds were distributed for education based on religious affiliation; but, following the “war of total separation” from 1852-1867, the expansion of voluntaryism (“no church…should receive state aid in any form but should be supported solely by voluntary contributions”) forced the state to provide financial aid for separate schools in the west (Wilson, 1970). By 1873 many of the first school systems had been replaced by public education; however, attendance was not compulsory across Canada until halfway through the twentieth century (Oreopoulos, 2005).
While the attendance debate was ongoing, “Modern Education” was faced with several philosophical theories regarding the purpose of education itself. Jean Jacques Roussenau was one of the first to suggest that the purpose of education should not be to fit a child to the pre-conceived notion of society, but rather to encourage thought and experience (Wilson, 1970). In addition, Johann Pestalozzi embraced Roussenau’s visions and stated, “The ultimate aim of education is not perfection in the accomplishments of the school…not the acquirement of habits of blind obedience and of prescribed diligence, but a preparation for independent action”. Despite the indistinguishable alignment between the science of learning and the philosophical thoughts presented, society was and still is, disturbed by the thought of disrupting the status quo (Wilson, 1970, Bransford, 2000). Societal dictatorship through education has been and will be, preserved for generations by sugar-coating the education system with a plethora of “learning” outcomes and curricular goals simply designed to categorize people.
Despite the plentiful knowledge regarding the science of learning, society refuses to make modifications in the name of conformity and control (Bransford, 2000). The human race has been well aware of the lack of learning in education for decades, yet the overarching fear of change muzzles rebellion. As Dr. Jesse Martin has suggested on many occasions, the lack of success in education is best represented by the minimal presence of genuine innovation in the last half-century. Though small improvements to previous inventions have been made, original thought and imagination no longer exist. Though causation cannot be proven directly, the notion of coincidence is highly improbable. The education system was designed to dictate society, not to facilitate learning. Instead of fighting a lost battle by making minuscule improvements at the classroom level (like we have been with innovation), abandon ship. “Modern Education” has never been about learning.
Isn’t it a little ironic that despite my harsh attitude towards education, I have devoted years of my life and thousands of dollars to a dictatorship that I will learn nothing from?
Bransford, J., NetLibrary, I., National Research Council (U.S.). Committee on Developments in the Science of Learning, & National Research Council (U.S.). Committee on Learning Research and Educational Practice. (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school (Expand — ed.). Washington, D.C: National Academy Press.
Gaffield, Chad. (2015). History of Education in Canada. The Online Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved from http://thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/history-of-education.
Oreopoulos, Philip. (2005). Canadian Compulsary School Laws and their Impact on Educational Attainment and Future Earnings. Statistics Canada: Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series (251).
Wilson, J. D., Stamp, R. M., & Audet, L. L. (1970). Canadian Education: A History. Scarborough, Ont: Prentice-Hall of Canada