19th century schooling—but we’re in 2013!?
Two hundred years behind
A pressing issue that concerns many parents, pedagogues and community builders of our new global society is the miseducation of our children.
The Canadian educational system as we know it today was designed in the 1800’s to solve the problems of that era. At the time, mass schooling was promoted to address 3 major issue of the 19th century: the heavy influx of immigrants, the transition from agricultural to industrial capitalism and the shift of political power to citizens. Well, guess what—today our children are attending schools that are still designed to address those same social issues that date back 200 years!
A collision that is putting our children at a disadvantage
There is an inherent collision between what our current educational systems are teaching our kids and what our future generations really need to be learning. There is something very true in what English author and social critic, H.G. Wells once said: “History is a race between education and catastrophe."
What are the challenges of today?
Two hundred years after the establishment of Western educational systems, we, as a planetary civilization, have the responsibility of designing a new educational model for our children. We are dealing with a new set of global issues including the unprecedented waves of migration, the development of revolutionary technologies and changing forms of production. In order to rise above these challenges, our children must develop a new understanding of human existence that transcends this sense of separation and unites all humans as global citizens.
21st century skills
In a world of massive flows of information, people and capital, our children require a very different set of skills. According to the Ross Model of education, our children need “enhanced problem-solving and decision-making capabilities, high level communication skills and an ability to collaborate with people across many different cultures." There is also a sense of accountability as a global citizen when one comes to understand how our lives depend on the health of our planet.
Teachers who inspire intellectual curiosity through science
From elementary to university, our children can benefit from independent thinking and a true desire to learn. But these qualities don’t come unless we step out of the box and beyond the current educational system. Here are 2 teachers that foster 21st century skills in our children by their unique approach to science.
Tom McFadden brings hip-hop to biology class
This passionate teacher inspires his 8th-graders to learn more about science through hip-hop. Bay Area middle school biology teacher Tom McFadden makes science history rap videos with his students. He sees music as having a direct impact on learning and motivation. Nothing demonstrates his approach better than to view the actual music video entitled: "Rosalind Franklin vs. Watson & Crick Science History Rap Battle":
Professor Brooks summons the “overview effect”
Canadian academic researcher and seasoned educator, Professor Christopher Brooks is a life-long lover of technologies, advanced intellectual educational systems and geochemistry. His strong commitment to undergraduate teaching and in more recent years to geoscience literacy led him conduct “big perspective” campus-wide courses, including one entitled, “Assembling Spaceship Earth," designed to introduce science to non-science students with a hands-on and engaging approach. I attended this course in 2005. It left me with a love for Earth, an undying curiosity for space and a fascination with the vestiges of Earth’s early stages of formation. Eight years later, Professor Brooks’ teachings continue to bear relevance in my life. His passion for science somehow gave me the “overview effect” and a deep sense of unity and coherence.
Watch this video for a better idea of the “Overview Effect”.
Both Tom McFadden and Professor Christopher Brooks share a holistic approach to education. Transcending the current educational model, they use science to inspire intellectual curiosity and a life-long love for learning. Mass education today must be about engaging the mind, body and spirit if our children are to thrive in a shifting economic and cultural landscape.