Pass it on! These videos by Sir Ken Robinson on TED Talks.
What led me to his talks was my struggle between getting an education and the real world. In a moment of spite, I became extremely frustrated with myself as I learned that the education I am (often) killing myself to take the most advantage of is not going provide me with a perfect place in the real world. The synthesis between receiving an education and working to getting the life you want is not something that works simultaneously. After having understood that there is a limit to what you should sacrifice for work (the limit for me is sleep, health, and always food), I still felt uneasy about the lack of encouragement my university provided me to be able to leave the nest, and many of my friends tended to agree...
The problem was not only - how am I going to define myself as an individual in an education system that has become standardized, but also - how am I going to fit the time in to: be an individual, define myself in this world, leave a trace of my being somewhere, and continue feeling significant when I leave this safety net called university? Well, the crisis was never going to be averted by thinking but by doing. However, I still think that the education system can entrench individuals and often discourage/intimidate them to reach out into the real world whilst they're still learning. Life is a learning experience, after all.
Ken Robinson meticulously dissects the problem that we are facing, and placed several arguments in his videos, of which I think the latter refer best to what I just mentioned:
1. Teaching and learning are not individualized, but are standardized processes which narrow the number of actual individuals who leave university. Without an individualized education system, how are we going to be able to be what the competitive world/job market wants us to be? We are fighting for individualism whilst being taught in a flattening and often bo-ring manner. Tell me what I want to hear and spark my curiosity! (Side note: a great professor also warned me that self-education is one of the greatest gifts, and that you will never be satisfied... thank you master Yoda).
2. We should grant the teaching profession with a high status. Teachers, as we all know, provide us with the encouragement we need to understand the synthesis of our education and the real world - they are living examples! I've often asked my professors what the 'in between stuff' was in their life, namely, what happened between leaving university and NOW. Also, teaching should fulfill the learning process of engagement, and spark curiosity, and not become a de-personlized regurgitation of information.
3. The school's success should be reflected from its students, and its activity in participation. When students become actively engaged and curious, they create spaces for themselves in which they (too often indirectly by authorities) participate in the real world. Examples are university newspapers, student council, etc.
4. Get rid of the hierarchy of subjects so that we can individualize education. It is so so so so necessary to escape of this dominant culture of science and math, and start to encourage art and humanities just as much. Both are just as necessary, but the point here is that there should be no dominant culture. As students, we should not feel pressured to take a specific course just because "there are more jobs in that market".
The last point is what I would to end on - I realized that, no matter how many times I was asked "But what are you going to DO with these subjects??", I am doing what I love, and I should encourage myself to make that relation to the real world. Trial and error.
Maybe Pink Floyd were getting at something here...