This is just a vague hypothetical I’ve been pondering late at night but I thought it might stimulate some interesting discussion. I think if things are to change in Australia - or the world, in a broader scope - our education system needs to be looked at.
Since a complete overhaul is something that will be very much resistant to change, I had the idea that maybe a big difference could be made by simply creating one, new, mandatory subject to be taught in high schools - perhaps during VCE years. This subject would teach students the basic skills they need to think for themselves as much as possible and have a high potential to continue learning outside of schools if it is out of their means.
I’d love to hear what you guys think might be ideal to include in such a subject. I made a list of a few ideas I had:
- logical fallacies 101
- how to self-learn and study
- how to acquire the information you need with modern technology
- the structure of government and how voting works
- the basics of interpreting and scrutinizing research articles
- how to recognize bullshit news, sponsored content, and clickbait
- understanding the manipulative nature advertising and marketing
- meditation fundamentals (or: “how to not become depressed and/or angry at the world with all this power”)
Implementation question #0: where’s the time for this coming from?
I think this is so important and I’m encouraged by recent education pushes I’ve heard about taking it into account. Rather than being any single class, all classes need to be pushing students towards independence. At a government level I think it would be a good idea to propose reduction goals to help achieve this, giving schools the express goal to minimize the amount of schooling each student needs to meet standards. Goals that aim for less work, shorter days, even removing entire years of general schooling.
I’m not sure where this easily fits in with the idea exactly but I just want to point out that the high school I went to (a private one) only thought the subjects as if you were going to end up being a CEO of a big company, doctor, lawyer, etc. For example they taught economics and accounting but not basic things like home economics, personal finance & basic bookkeeping which are things which I’ve really struggled with since leaving school.
I wad always disorganised and ended up not doing my homework but no one ever sat me down to teach me how to organise stuff even though it was blindingly obvious in hindsight what the problem was. Looking back I know that I would be more proactive with my kids to be more aware of their schooling and fill the gaps based on my experiences, but there are still going to be other kids where their parents take a hands off approach to their schooling, and trust that they get everything they need from their school even if they don’t, and don’t do anything to actually help with their homework except say “Do your homework!” without helping them.
On the plus side they were good with the critical thinking side of things, but only lightly. I like how we were thought how to deconstruct a newspaper article to see through what it says on the surface might not necessarily be fact but rather pushing their agenda of what they want me to think. That was a really good eye opener and made me always think differently to what I see in the media since then. Things like that are great and something that I wish that more people could see.
Are you thinking about something like this perhaps?
Have you read the current policy? It calls for this:
- Include a solid foundation of life skills and personal development within the National Curriculum:
- Grades 1-4 to cover behaviour towards others, people skills, and exploration of science and critical thinking;
- Grades 5-6 to develop earlier material and additionally cover sex education, conflict resolution, and ethics;
- Grades 7-8 to develop earlier material and additionally cover accidents and emergency response, civics and voting, budgeting, basic IT skills, careers and starting a business.
I think some of us who worked on the policy did so out of frustration. At school we were never taught what Australia’s system of government is, how voting works, how to do first aid, how to start a business, or how to see through advertising. We did however learn square-dancing for a whole term, religious indoctrination for two years, metaphysical poetry (to 15-year olds - why?), and so forth.
The giveaway for an underperforming education system is that anyone can be called “poorly educated” in a system where everyone is required to attend school full-time for 10 years. What are they doing for all that time? The national curriculum is like an overstuffed sausage that still manages to miss most of what’s really important.
I think this would be a great replacement for whatever time is currently taking in primary school for scripture classes.
I don’t think you’ll achieve your goals with only half an hour a week
Always felt like 3-4 hours when I was at school, but just could have seemed that way due to intense boredom.