We are in the diaspora of misinformation and we are facing a major challenge to our very biology and essence of creation. Our lives are constantly threatened with ideologies that are intended to break up the family unit and redefine what gender roles are in our society.
Our very definition of traditional education systems has become synonymous with oppressive regimes, institutionalized behaviour management and an utter disrespect of the wonderfully curious and inventive minds we teach. Students are regarded as blank slates and dehumanized daily through a rigid and cold system of indifference and compliance. We ask children to raise their hands to go to the washroom and we dictate when they should eat and when they should speak. Schools have become a symbol of incarceration rather than an environment where learning is abundant and curiosity is celebrated. Added to that, the insidious political agenda that is incomparable to any other stumbling block we had to face before the Covid pandemic and you get a completely failing system of instruction. Archaic, antiquated and oblivious to the needs of our 21st century learners in every aspect of its progression.
The educational systems have not modernized at all. In fact, this is the only sector of our society that has seen very little advancement in its techniques and methodologies. It is a heavily political system that is suffused with ulterior motives, beneficial ambivalence and regarded as a social construct which is publicly funded and individually profitable for certain elite members of the system.
It is time for change.
It is time for real education.
Learning is innate. Curiosity is inherent. Our models of pedagogy have been transformed by technology. The internet and its capacity to access infinite amounts of data at the touch of a fingertip or at a simple voice command is an immediate shift from forward-facing, hierarchical instruction to collective or individual, distributive learning. If anyone wants to learn how to set up a machine or fix a car or learn a new skill, they just google it or YouTube it now. Why do we assume that as adults, we can pursue knowledge in a certain format and expect children to continue learning the same way as our forefathers and those before them? We need to present knowledge to our future generation the same way we, as adults, consume it! It is time to modernize the paradigm, pivot and shift it completely. Instead of teaching curriculum subjects in silos, one at a time, we need to combine it, diversity it and make it engaging, relevant and current.
Children learn best through engagement. It is a fact. Data retention is wholly guaranteed, irrespective of what is being instructed, if an individual is "interested". It is the pique in curiosity that elevates dopamine and creates a lasting knowledge precept that formulates in the mind and assures long-term retention. Cross-curricular, activity based learning is the key to producing an effective and long-lasting framework of education. In conjunction with this type of educational delivery, there are four basic types of learning competencies that students MUST be pursued in school: Collaboration, Creativity, Critical Thinking and Communication.
So what does this mean for alternative schools, and Agora Prep/Plus in particular?
We need to get with the times... evolve and educate our young minds. We need to enrich them with ideas and allow them time to create and invent. Time for debates, questioning and the pursuit of higher knowledge using the tools available to them already and with which they have unsurpassed facility. We need to allow them to record themselves making presentations, teach them how to persuade and pitch their ideas. Empower their economic and financial strategic thinking so they can grow up knowing how to run a business and manage others. We need to inspire future leaders through a system that allows them to be captains of their own learning.
We can't tell them when to speak, how to speak, when to use the washroom, when to eat, how long to eat for and then expect them to independent, free-thinking, progressive, inventive adults in the future. Children spend majority of their weekdays for 10 months per year in school. It is their equivalent to our definition of a full-time job. We need to use that time to guide their pathways towards fulfilling their purpose. It is an imperative, not a choice. The time is now and we need to succeed if there is a mere hope for a better future.