Learning Out of the Box

As a kid that was really good at academics, I enjoyed school a lot. When I graduated and started working, I longed for those summer months where I had no responsibilities. That time was filled with reading books, playing games, watching television and listening to music. School was also easy, at least when it came to the “work”. I had little trouble with most subjects, perhaps excepting Calculus. I blame the teacher, because he blew me off when I asked the most important question. “Please explain what the practical, everyday use of Calculus is?” I didn’t fail the subject but I had very little interest in imaginary numbers.

These days, I have occasional dreams of eventually being an educator. Not a professor or teacher, though I could see myself doing that. (I’m already a sometime instructor in my current career.) I’m interested in being an educator. Build a school. Design educational frameworks. And the way I would do it isn’t like anything in the world today. (The Finns appear to be at the forefront of education reform.)

I’d do away with “specialist” subjects that are core to many of today’s educational frameworks (bye, Calculus and Trigonometry). I’d revise the way certain subjects are taught (really, local and world history can be interesting if properly presented). I’d add in life skills to core “curriculum” topics, like cooking and accounting and writing and dancing and listening to people and music and at least two languages that aren’t your native ones. (Most kids these days appear to be bilingual by reason of parentage, geography and/or affinity.) And I’d make sure that kids aren’t stuck in school buildings all the time. There somehow, someway has to be travel to foreign places as part of education. It’s necessary. Appreciation and understanding of world history and cultures and situations is essential to a true education. We would teach religion,

I don’t know how to do a competitive grading environment in this theoretical education regime. I personally feel that competition is essential to education. It drives kids to excel. It’s also a true reflection of the world. When the kids grow up they can opt in or out of the rat race if they so choose, but it’s important that they see and experience it in an environment where they can’t get permanently hurt.

So yeah. I would want to return to school in the future. This would be my agenda.


This post is a response to the Daily Prompt of June 19, 2015.

“If you’re in school, are you enjoying your classes? If you’re out of school, what do you miss about it — or are you glad those days are over?”

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13 thoughts on “Learning Out of the Box

    1. Remove Calc and Trig just from the core curriculum through 12th grade. Give a non-credit overview course for graduating students who are interested in higher maths and areas of study that require them like physics. If someone’s going to be a liberal arts major, she has no need to know what “i” is. 🙂

  1. I never studied calculus or trigonometry. I had English and Portuguese for languages and I had project management, religious studies and another module on learning about behaving in society and being a ‘good person’ all of this back in Portugal over a decade ago.

    In a couple schools that I know in the UK, kids are given the option to have dance, performing arts, music, languages, religious studies, sexual education, food technology (cooking) and many more subjects. Not to mention extra-curricular activities and clubs. It seems as though as you defined to a large extend the school systems we already have in Europe.

    1. I would imagine that “sexual education” and the associated extra-curricular activities and club would have been the most popular thing!

      Is the setup for public schools and private schools the same?

      Regardless, I’m certain that Europe and Scandanavia are out ahead of the curve in terms of balancing work and life, whether it be actual “work” or the work that student put in towards their degrees. The practice of students travelling to see the world during/after university, and before starting their careers is uniquely European. People in American and Asia dive used to dive headlong into careers. (It’s particularly bad in countries like Japan, Korea, India and China where kids are under immense pressure to succeed at careers.)

      1. I believe sexual education is core for all kids at a certain age to increase awareness of protection and break all the myths kids seem to still believe in. Portugal and the UK deliver their subjects completely different, I felt more pressure in middle school back home then I did at University here. I had far more examinations, coursework, group work and presentations as well as more modules and hours spent in classes.

        Here kids are dismissed at 3pm, I believe the curriculum is different from school to school and there are different types of schools too. Thus, I am sure private schools are different in regards to their approach to the curriculum and evaluation of its effectiveness. I prefer the Portuguese approach but with the option to follow specialised subjects as the UK offers. I used to stay many times at school till 6.30pm but I learnt to handle pressure a lot more. Not to mention that everyone is encouraged to succeed whereas here they work with levels, so one class has different levels and it can be very hard to go from rock bottom to an A*. I find it confusing to say the least… I’ll mention more later I need to go! 😧

        1. I think this is a topic that’s extremely interesting. We were educated in different regions of the world, in different eras, so I’m looking forward to discussing. I can’t imagine Portugal, being a Catholic country, having a liberal attitude on sex and sex education. Sure, we’re used to sexual freedoms in Scandanavia, and France, and the UK to an extent (hello Page 2 girls). It’s a distinct difference from the US, where the religious right has a stronghold over a lot of the country, and a woman’s nipple on national television is enough to send the whole country into hysteria.

          1. Oh no, no. In Portugal I never had sexual education at all. I don’t know whether it has been implemented now but well… not in my time. In the UK yes, they have it a lot.

            We have a lot to discuss then as even the Portuguese and the UK approach differ quite a lot. 🙂

          2. Seriously I would. In Asia there’s usually no such thing as true sex education. In some cases it’s because the culture is career focused, and children get in the way of work. In other cases it’s a taboo subject and not discussed at all, so teenage pregnancies abound.

          3. Teenage pregnancies around here are quite high too so the issue is not just being a taboo. Teens need to be shaken up and wake the heck up!

          4. You’d think condoms and the pill were low tech enough that kids would know to use them. Those things have been around since the 1970s!

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