Recently I was having a conversation with some friends. The subject of education came up. Usually this conversation always revolves around our frustration and the latest about stress we feel because of school. Naturally, we started talking about solutions and what we see as the point of education.
One friend began, he told us, you see its all about economics. We have to let kids have marketable skills, and we have to level the playing field for kids in inner cities without the resources people like we (my friends and I) have.
Another friend nodded his head and began by saying he thinks it’s all about democracy. Preparing kids to become responsible citizens and that leveling the playing field was part of democracy.
Lastly, another said he believed it was all about out competing other countries so as to keep America, the golden beacon to the rest of the world, on top.
No, this story didn’t happen. I made it up. But I’m recounting a typical conversation I overhear. To be honest, it is frustrating for me to hear this kind of thing. Not to say that anyone is wrong, though, I don’t see the point of education as being to enhance any country’s standing. In addition, I don’t believe America is a golden beacon to anyone.
Anyway, lets talk about the first two friends. Democracy of course is a good thing. So is innovation, new ideas and skills that go along thinking about education in terms of economics. Yet I feel something is seriously missing from both these friends.
You see, I’m not a philosopher or anything, but I think there is something to say for being happy. Democracy and fair/innovative economics is certainly part of that! But to say that it is the only part of being happy is a far cry from the truth. See, what we are missing from all this talk about education and what we are missing from education right now is the human side of things. Me, you, my friends, we are all people with distinct passions interests and dreams for the future. Therefore education must feel personalized and people must feel free to follow the paths they’d like. On the other side, we all share one thing, that is being human.
See, we often forget that in the debating and in the policies there are kids who suffer. I’ve often thought about whether or not people working for the College Board, principals or other people felt guilty about the sadness, stress, and emotional strain they put on kids. But I realized, they don’t see it as that. They see that they are enhancing kids lives and they are proud of the work they doing. They view education as a means of creating skilled people and enhancing peoples economic standing and therefore lifestyle. This of course is a good thing! Yet in doing so they take the human aspect out of education and therefore out of what other people deem success.
The human aspect must exist in everything we do. In fact not just the human aspect, but rather the life aspect. The everything aspect really. Us, animals, the world, its oceans, land, and everything else in it are part of everything we do. When we think about compartmentalized issues, in education things like just standardized testing for instance, we make an issue out of something that is just part of the bigger picture.
Skills are important, democracy is important, moving towards equality is important, but none of these are important without humans finding meaning and happiness.