My 16-year old nephew posted a Mark Twain quote on Facebook recently — “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” It surprises me (pleasantly) that he ponders the things he does. I wondered what might have prompted this particular quote, and I realized that he has already started to develop the very skills we’ve been talking about in class that lead to life-long learning. He has a natural curiosity and seems to enjoy challenging authority which, while it may drive his parents crazy sometimes, keeps him from simply accepting information, instead leading him to assess it (critically reflect on it) in relation to his beliefs and prior knowledge.
Are schools today providing an education or simply transferring information? It worries me when I hear that school systems are cutting things like art and music programs to provide more time for teachers to “cover” the information that is needed to pass standardized tests. To me, that seems like the role of the teacher is simply to spoon-feed students the information they need to know in order to move on to the next level, but where is the assessment that determines if the students have learned how to learn?
School is definable – elementary school, high school, even graduate school. They are finite entities. Education, on the other hand, should be a life-long pursuit.