A Better Model
What would it look like if our primary goal was to mentor and teach students as much as possible, rather than simply institutionalize them for as long as possible and ensure they graduate?
For one, you would see schools offer more work-study programs and apprenticeships. These would allow kids as young as 16 to work a real job and learn in the real world about the industries and fields they’re interested in, or discover early on what they absolutely aren’t interested in. This would help them truly get a grasp on what they want to do with the rest of their lives, and they would learn skills that are immediately useful to their job, rather than copying down notes that are only directly applicable to a quiz.
You would similarly see more teachers encouraging self-education, curiosity, and exploration. Students would be encouraged to use the vast resources that they have access to rather than be pushed through a curriculum of busy work and videos, 90 minutes at a time. That’s not learning, that’s mere consumerism. When we eat, our body absorbs the useful nutrients and processes what’s left into… well, you know. It’s not much different for most of the material we consume in school. Little of what we learn in school turns into much more than crap.
The most prominent change would be in the role of teachers. Teachers would no longer be “teachers” at all—they would be mentors. Mentors who, with their knowledge and experience of the world, lead young people in interesting directions with their learning and development, rather than hold their hand through the process.
The entire learning model is upside down as it stands currently. If I decided to flip it right side up, everyone inside would feel as though their world has been turned upside down when it felt perfectly fine before.