As I approached the broad topic of “education in a digital age”, I subconsciously thought I’d showcase all the reasons public schooling was broken and homeschooling was a much better option – the obvious choice for individualized learning.
Spoiler alert: when I delved in, I got excited about all the possibilities of a hybrid education and an appreciation for the truly great teachers out there.
My Background, and What’s Wrong with Traditional Schooling
I felt like a real weirdo growing up.
Now as an adult, I think being educated in a non-traditional way gave me an advantage in my perspective – like a jumpstart to questioning status quo in all areas of life.
You might say my parents were ahead of their time in some ways, homeschooling me and my brothers long before it was cool.
The modern homeschool movement started in the 1970s with the goal of liberation from “an oppressive classroom environment designed to make children compliant employees”.
Unfortunately, the Christians kinda messed things up for everyone when they started taking the movement over with a more oppositional stance, demonizing public school as a diabolic enemy. They caused a stigma and left a bad taste in people’s mouths, inadvertently suppressing an understanding of the biggest benefits of homeschooling and effectively setting the movement back.
The original goal, however, remains valid; even more so now as the future of employment goes through a major shift.
“It’s not that I feel that school is a good idea gone wrong, but a wrong idea from the word go. It’s a nutty notion that we can have a place where nothing but learning happens, cut off from the rest of life.”John Holt
Basic and foundational facts aside, what benefit is it for everyone to focus on learning the same things?
In traditional schooling, so much time is spent nose down to what some other people decided everyone should know.
What kind of sense does it make to put intensely different people into a cookie cutter type system?
Can anyone argue that a traditional classroom setting is the best way to learn how to implement knowledge in “real life”?
Statistics say that only an average of about 30% of learning needs are met through formal learning. Although formal learning has a foundational quality, the majority of learning is social and experiential.
Drawing from the science of training, we can see why students may not be best served by traditional schooling.
- It’s important to know why you need to know something.
- It’s more beneficial to know where to find information than to focus on committing it all to memory.
- The best learning happens through practice.
- Information that’s learned for testing purposes doesn’t promote “deep learning” and has poor retention rates.
This pyramid illustrates which learning methods provide the best learning retention.
What does a better understanding of how we learn and the shifts taking place in our world mean for education moving forward?
The way we think is changing.
Reading encourages you to be focused and imaginative. The internet and smartphones strengthen our ability to scan information rapidly and efficiently.₁
Having access to information in this way means that the importance shifts from the amount of information you retain, to being skilled at being able to find and apply information.
I loved this TED Talk from Joe Ruhl, a teacher who created an amazing classroom experience for his students – giving them the power of choice in their learning. (It reminded me of something my mom would do 🙂 )
Ruhl’s outlook is that teachers should be “a guide on the side rather than a sage on the stage”, and there’s no doubt in my mind that’s what the role of teacher must evolve into for education to develop into what’s needed for the future that’s speeding toward us.
Steve Fiehl, co-founder of Crossknowledge, agrees. His company models an excellent approach for teams.
Their SHIFT methodology is:
- Set meaningful goals (starting with the desired outcome)
- Harvest premium content (gleaning from multiple sources)
- Individualize experiences (utilizing a wide variety of learning tools)
- Foster lasting engagement (pulling from scientific research and years of experience)
learninginto performance (monitoring results)
In his TED Talk, Fiehl describes four revolutions he sees happening with learning.
- Relationship to Knowledge: Students should not be spoon-fed information, but rather taught how to find it.
- Relationship to Expertise: Teachers should be learning coaches and advisers.
- Relationship to Education: Information is constantly changing, so people need to have a mindset of being life-long learners, self-learners taking ownership in their own education.
- Relationship to Authority: People want to learn but they don’t want to be told. They want to be empowered and learn from many sources.
Perhaps the best part of this educational shift that’s taking place is that it’s making space for people to focus on their true gifting and passion – students on what interests them, and teachers on relationships with their students.
Yet another component to consider is how to handle the inundation of information of our time. As Dr. Jim Taylor points out in his article on information overload, with “large and never-ending quantities of input”,
What’s the takeaway?
Information is common.
There’s no doubt it’s a skill to be able to find the information you need in the moment, but most people have a reasonable ability to conduct an internet search.
Knowledge is valuable.
Having familiarity or experience with that information is less common.
“Knowledge is not just about possessing information, but also about possessing methods and means of storing, processing, and using that information. It requires action.”₂
Wisdom is precious.
And even more rare is the ability to perceive the bigger picture and discern what to do with it.
True education is not merely being informed, but being empowered with understanding.
Ultimately, there is no way to really know if another type of education would have been a better option since we don’t get to A/B test our lives.
What we do know is that the future looks a lot different than what our parents and theirs knew to prepare for, so it makes sense to consider education from a different perspective as well.
Coming from a homeschool background myself, I’ve always had the empowered outlook on life that “where there’s a will, there’s a way”, and one of the most important things you can know is how to learn.
We would all also do well to consider how can we promote better processing of information – the time spent on “
If you’d like to know how we encourage learning in our family, visit our site here.