There’s a growing gap between how students learn and how students are educated. Ken Robinson compared education and learning to dieting. “Oh, I see you’re dieting. Are you losing any weight?” You just finished your education. Did you learning anything?
As standardization and testing takes precedence in our culture, it is becoming more and more difficult to find those moments of actual learning where curiosity and excitement converge. Our system of education uses an industrial model that was invented to accommodate the industrial revolution. It reminds me of a factory where the management doesn’t have a clue what is going on or how to fix the problem; they just want it fixed–now. Teachers must take the kids along the conveyor belt, instill them with the adequate knowledge, and pass them along to spec before the quality assurance checks. If the kids aren’t fully performing, tie the teachers wages to the benchmark. Teachers become so engulfed in meeting the quota that they don’t have time to create the necessary climate for learning–it’s forced.
The fundamental problem with this system is that people do not learn in this manor. Learning doesn’t happen linearly; it happens organically. As the system is standardized, the output is standardized which vastly inhibits the range of human intelligence. Kids are born with all sorts of different aptitudes, and it is up to the adults in their lives to help them develop those aptitudes into abilities. However, teachers are too often working against a system that only validates a certain set of abilities. In a growly complex world, we can’t afford to discourage any areas that kids want to explore. It’s amazing what can happen when a spark of curiosity is formed in a child. They take over and they run with it because no one has told them not to. Good teachers know this, and good teachers encourage this in spite of the limits set on them. It’s comforting to know that this type of learning is still out there–that kids can still come to class excited and ready to learn. It’s not some myth that’s out there, and it would be allowed to grow if policy makers gave educators the trust and respect they need to cultivate a climate that their students can thrive in.
I decided to put together this film because I am blessed to hear these stories regularly. They’re worth sharing because we can’t move forward as a society or as a culture until we radically rethink our view of human intelligence, what education really is, and remove the boundaries that prevent our teachers from fully encouraging and developing our youth.
I’ve become passionate about these issues not only because I have grown up around education but because I, like so many, have experience the short-comings of the system first-hand. Tell someone in the South that you want to be a filmmaker, and you’ll get some interesting reactions. I encourage you to look into some of Sir Ken Robinson’s work. Most of the barriers in education we face are barriers that we have created, and Ken Robinson does an excellent job of putting those into perspective so we can move forward.