The Education Debate: Industrialized Teaching vs Organic Learning

Presently, the term “controversial” has become taboo because there has been such a division between “political correctness” and “beliefs.” On one hand, many people are afraid to discuss their own opinions because they are afraid to enter into the realm of controversy and un-thoughtfulness. In contrast, others have been silenced and pushed to dismiss their own beliefs to avoid uncivil situations and conversations. I find this vicious thought cycle comedic, because it is so present within conversations surrounding fundamental aspects of our society. The education system is a great example to use for this topic. Education is an inescapable institution because it has been set up to perfectly fit within other social systems, such as the political, economic and sociologic interdependent systems. Through properly practicing the education system’s standards, which are enforced by the political system, we can then achieve success economically and supposedly, sociologically and psychologically.  Through this misconception and deceit  being circulated by a system which compromises success, self-growth and knowledge, students are inevitably being set up for failure.

            Sir Ken Robinson is a highly renown public speaker who addresses controversial and often dismissed topics such as politics, the education system and the Arts. In 2009, Robinson participated in a TED Talk titled “Do Schools Kill Creativity”, which then went on to become the most viewed TED Talk of all time. Robinson addresses topics that pertain to how the education system murders all traces of creativity within students in aims of replacing creativity with academic rigor.

            A controversial topic that many people don’t mention is the “industrialized education” ideology that appears to be rapidly spreading. When people say the word, “industrialization,” many people immediately rush to an image of a factory. Universal symbols for industrialization include conveyor belts, factory smoke, factory lines and many more. With this being said, factories have maintained a reputation of implementing simple minded ideals into their employees. This, of course, is because factory suited tasks do not require knowledge that surpasses beyond the instructions their employers have already given.

            On the other hand, architects who require a staggering amount of post-secondary education are bred to stimulate their creativity so that they can produce new and innovative pieces. Despite the blatantly obvious need for architects to release their own yearning for unprecedented thoughts, they are forced beneath the flawed hand of the school system. Seated in a classroom of a hundred, architectural students are monitored as they retain information from professors. The post-secondary system educates in aims of producing people who have the ability to retain information and regurgitate it. Through an inhumane amount of testing, a barbaric overload of unrealistic expectations and a never-ending list of unachievable promises, universities create their own bracket of individuals. These individuals will then be expected to play a role in society with the information that they have retained, thus allowing them to contribute to the economic system.

            Despite the urge for creativity in some post-secondary programs, the education system has been constructed around the idea of “industrialized learning”, which brings me back to my factory metaphor. In schools, students are lined up together so that they can perform the task that has been assigned to them. In a plant, lines are created to progressively assemble pieces in order to manufacture a desired piece. Meat factories, for example, require inspectors to monitor each step of the assembly line to ensure that only “useful” animals advance further into the meat process. Similarly, schools require inspectors [teachers] to monitor their students to determine whether they fit the criteria to advance to the next line.

            With the current education system, it’s become alarmingly easy to compare a student to a lesser individual, such as an animal. Like an animal, students are being scrutinized and evaluated; those who don’t meet the producer’s desired criteria are simply discarded. Regardless of the other opportunities that are being provided to students who progress with more difficulty, the segregating process is a tough one for anyone to handle.

            With an education system so set on creating factory products with the label “100% satisfaction guaranteed” for future employers, you would think that all of the interdependent systems would benefit from this. In reality, this is certainly not the case. In 2015, the high school graduation rate in Ontario was 86%. In Nunavut, this rate was even lower, seeing that it was only at 35%. Finland has a graduation rate of 93%, making it one of the highest graduation rates in all of the world. Now what about Finland makes it so much more successful in its education than Canada?

            Finland has proudly been a country that acknowledges the importance of family and believes that life should maintain a work-family balance. The Finnish government understands that at the core of a good worker lies a family. Without properly nourishing a person's need to spend time with those who they love, they will not be able to work to the best of their ability. They have shorter work days and encourage their workers to take breaks so that they can work in a stress free environment. The student to teacher ratio in Finland is also much smaller,  as there is one assigned teacher for every twelve students. Whereas in Canada, there is one teacher for every thirty students, which proves the point that Canada’s education system does not value personalized teaching. As Rita Pierson said, “education is the value and importance of human connection.”

            With that being said, I’m more than grateful for the opportunity I have been given in Canada to pursue my education. However, Canada is a system, like many others, that may need some modification to ensure that it is as efficient and effective for as many people as possible.