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Education Should Be About Learning to Learn, Essay Example

Pages: 1

Words: 639

Essay

Introduction

When it comes to assessing the impact and effectiveness of an education system, many people seem to feel that making things as academic as possible is a good idea. Others state that practical and vocational skills should be learned, usually at the expense of more creative skills. What is key to any effective curriculum though is actually teaching students how to learn effectively. Once they have acquired the skills to learn properly and to think for themselves, then the possibilities are endless and unlimited.

Main Body

John A states in his essay ‘Confusing Harder With Better’, that: “Compounding the problem is a reliance on the sort of instruction that treats children as passive receptacles into which knowledge or skills are poured.” This statement sums up the main problem with much education. Students are battered with a list of information to be remembered, rather than trying out new skills which will equip them to learn for themselves. Even in China, it has been recognised that in order to create greater intellectual rigor in students that learning overseas is very useful in this regard.

There is a very useful reference in the piece ‘What True Education Should Do’ to what the Ancient Greek philosopher Socrates thought about the issue. It was clear that he agreed that the being able to better develop the process of learning is what is important in any education system. As the essay states: “But genuine education, as Socrates knew more than two thousand years ago, is not inserting the stuffings of information into a person, but rather eliciting knowledge from him; it is the drawing out of what is in the mind.” This quote perfectly sums up what a good education system should be trying to achieve. Namely, the production of thinking, challenging and well-rounded individuals who can be at home in any situation which requires intellect or thought. Rather than necessarily learning ‘things’, they learn how to question, analyse and bring prior knowledge to bear in a wide range of situations. Another quote from ‘What Education Should Do’ also helps to show this: “And as Edith Hamilton has reminded us, Socrates never said, ‘I know, learn from me.'”

It is also important that students have the confidence to try new things and fail in a supportive environment. Many students feel at school that they cannot participate properly in class activities because they are frightened of looking stupid. A good education system encourages and rewards students for trying, rather than punishing them for failure. The satirical piece ‘The commencement speech you’ll never hear’, taken from ‘Guidelines: a Cross-Cultural Reading/Writing Text’, by Ruth Spack has one especially telling line in it. The statement, “But tomorrow, in the world to which you go, you had best not defend errors but learn from them,” sums up exactly what education should aim to do. Students need to have the confidence to make errors, as it is only by doing this that they can hope to learn. Punishing errors repeatedly just causes discouragement and disinterest.

Conclusion

It can therefore be seen that an education should not be about hammering facts into classrooms full of herds of compliant but docile students. While good exam results and reciting lists of facts may be taken as signs of success by some observers, people who have worked in the sphere of education know that a much more rounded approach is needed. An approach where learning to learn is encouraged and a spirit of curiosity is fostered will produce more thinking students who can cope in a wide variety of economic and social situations once their education is complete. This can only help people who travel understand other cultures in a much more complete way.

Works Cited

Article, ‘Confusing Harder With Better’, page 1.

Article, ‘What True Education Should Do’ page 1.

‘Guidelines: a Cross-Cultural Reading/Writing Text’, by Ruth Spack.  New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1990.

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