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I Declare by Matthew

July 17, 2013 Posted by: Matthew
I declare that all people shall be free in the choosing of their own education without being institutionalized into societal slavery.

Current modern educational structures such as departmental schools do not provide enough individual attention for a person to develop intellectually and socially, and man was never meant to be imprisoned for several hours for the sole sake of learning.

Because students need more individual attention, we have been noticing an alarming increase  in high school dropouts over the last several years, and as a result those in authority are trying to cram as many kids as they can into three-story buildings that already are in disrepair, losing common resources such as paper, and struggling to give outdated textbooks to all students, in an attempt to save these children from "certain" doom.  This is the case with my high school, as the crowded hallways and antique infrastructure leave much to be desired in terms of proper learning.

Furthermore, man was naturally free; no boundaries.  We learned with the mere tool of observation and from there, built layer upon layer of thinking to the point where we have become a mechanical society.  With newer technology, more and more students are utilizing online educational sites to expand their knowledge, and with less funding for the public school system, larger class sizes and fewer teachers have made in-school learning a less-than-optimal experience.  It is also interesting to note that the pioneers in this computer driven field, including Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, did more of their own work rather than rely on a system that is losing its focus.  Most people would say that the chance of a college dropout succeeding fiscally was slim; but how do we really know?  How many people have even attempted to break the mold to choose their own pursuits, rather than succumb to the pressure of their peers?  Education should not be considered identical to schooling.  Education never fails, but schooling is a risky path to travel.

20 Comments Comments Icon

  1. Al - Aldan, PA
    July 19, 2013 at 11:04

    Matthew (Pt. 2), I think I would sum up my position with these analogies. Being able to summarize the plot from Romeo and Juliet is a result of schooling. Recognizing the similarities and differences between Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story is a result of education. Memorizing the "times tables" and Ohm's and Faraday's laws is a result of schooling. Teaming up with a former classmate to build an electronic device that can add, subtract and multiply is a result of education. Our challenge is to find the best way to school students in the basics and still provide them with the inspiration to educate themselves and apply their knowledge. Would you agree? Let me finish by saying that from just this short dialogue, I think you are a well educated young man and I look forward to hearing more of your thoughts. I also think that with more young people like you we can rise to the challenge!

  2. Al - Aldan, PA
    July 19, 2013 at 09:52

    Matthew (pt. 1), Thank you, for taking the time to read, consider and reply to my post. I was worried that I might not have stated strongly enough how much I agree with you and that I might have focused too much on what I perceived to be our differences. I think, however, that you understood my main point: there is still some value in schooling. I think we both agree that we must change the way we think of a classroom. I recently had the opportunity to take some online courses and I really enjoyed them and I learned a lot, even though I never set foot in a classroom. Naturally, there were also some courses that I felt just missed the mark. Overall, online courses fit my learning style well. With so many new technologies we have an explosion of new ways to teach and learn and we owe it to our students and children to be open to any possibility. I think the two men you chose as examples would agree and even owe their success to this kind of openness. What do you think of the phrase "educational entrepreneurs"? I think that might be a good way to describe what we are talking about.

  3. Matthew - Philadelphia, PA
    July 19, 2013 at 05:25

    @Sloane: Most definitely! If someone enjoyed what they were doing, than they would likely do whatever they can to keep doing more of it. This turns into more experience, hence more ways of teaching that would be more adaptable, and overall more successful. It's kind of a shame that our most important jobs get a bad rap in our society (teachers, electricians, plumbers, etc.) If we had more intelligence in these fields, we could possibly be seeing much more advances.

  4. Matthew - Philadelphia, PA
    July 19, 2013 at 05:19

    @Erin (Pt. 3): This is what I take pride in. The ability to look out for yourself, and the thought of exceeding beyond my potential just motivates me to aim higher. The only problem is consistency because as a typical teenager, you have your up moments and really irritable ones. As a result I may delay time to get something done, but not nearly as much doing long periods of homework on something I easily understand in the classroom.

  5. Matthew - Philadelphia, PA
    July 19, 2013 at 05:19

    @Erin (Pt. 2): Being at a certain stage in my life where I have chosen to take responsibility for my knowledge, I have taken to sites online for learning. I am currently improving my Spanish vocabulary as well as trying to code HTML. I've noticed that those who succeed are those that devote their time to working on hard problems beyond their capabilities.

  6. Matthew - Philadelphia, PA
    July 19, 2013 at 05:18

    @ Erin (Pt. 1): Personally, I am somewhat running towards the light, so to speak. I've come to realize how shallow my thoughts have really become solely relying on school to give me an education. Practically anyone can do homework and pass tests by cramming the night before and instantly forget everything afterwards. In short, I find school too easy; tedious yes, but engaging? Hardly.

  7. Matthew - Philadelphia, PA
    July 19, 2013 at 05:15

    @Al (Pt. 3): Even if they can not be taught basic arithmetic or reading skills, the least they could provide is how to get in touch with those who can. Communication is still an important part of learning. I would also say that as we become more technologically-inclined, objects are being dumbed down and becoming user friendly for most (if not all) to use. It's astonishing how most antiqued work can be easily summed up in a sentence or two of a child's book.

  8. Matthew - Philadelphia, PA
    July 19, 2013 at 05:15

    @Al (Pt. 2): Bill Gates, on the other hand, went to an expensive school with top notch resources for learning, something the majority of us will not have the privilege to attain. Nonetheless, I see where you are coming from about needing something to start on. It is difficult to determine the best course of action as we do need something to fall back on, but parents also should play a crucial role in their children's education.

  9. Matthew - Philadelphia, PA
    July 19, 2013 at 05:14

    @Al (Pt. 1): I agree with you wholeheartedly about learning from others' past experiences as well as our own. Steve himself learned about mechanics from his adoptive father Paul Jobs, who did not finish high school. His school only really proved to be a connection source for him to meet Bill Fernandez and later Steve Wozniak, who would later become important to his upbringing.

  10. Matthew - Philadelphia, PA
    July 19, 2013 at 05:11

    @Bethany (Pt. 2): Schools that employ 'education' instead are different as they aren't the basic idea of a school; I suppose it'd involve more being joined to resources? I'd say that they are more of programs like mentor-ships and unrestricted teaching. Not sure about how many, the ones that aren't "do/pay it yourself" probably have to be funded by the state or by private funds.

  11. Matthew - Philadelphia, PA
    July 19, 2013 at 05:11

    @Bethany (Pt. 1): I feel that they intertwined. A school by definition is an institution dedicated to educate, practices for a set of beliefs based on requirements, effective by applying those beliefs through repetition.

  12. Matthew - Philadelphia, PA
    July 19, 2013 at 04:46

    First and foremost, I would like to thank you all for responding! Your comments are very much valued in high regard and appreciated for honesty.

  13. John - Seneca Falls, NY
    July 19, 2013 at 01:44

    Matthew: Provocative words and thoughts there. I agree with Al -- there needs to be a balance between schooling and education. The schooling part may provide a good foundation for future learning, or it might not. On the other hand, I know several young people who are currently taught with very little structure in their alternative to schooling. Some of the results are positive, while other results leave room for improvement. In my own experience I have tried to continue to keep learning -- when my bosses at work and my family at home will allow me to do so. :)

  14. Sloane - Fort Lauderdale, Florida
    July 19, 2013 at 12:24

    Matthew, this is easily one of the best pieces I've read in a long time. It sparked a thought in my mind that the quality of education in America is not only limited by our resources, but our desire to be a teacher. Most people consider teaching to not be a prestigious career. If more intelligent people were involved in schooling, the quality of education would sky rocket. Many teachers, from my experience, have not been passionate about what they do, so the quality of their teaching is lower compared to a more involved teacher. If the educator loved their job, school would be less of a chore. Do you agree?

  15. Diane - Philadelphia, PA
    July 18, 2013 at 12:03

    Hi Matthew, I was drawn to your comment about departmental structures in schools that do not allow students to get the individual attention they need to advance their learning. Many schools to address this failing developed the small learning community structure to break up the anonymity of large high schools and give students more one on one time. I think the idea of going beyond the school walls and possibly partnering with community based agencies is one way to make the broader community a resource in teaching and learning. The kind of apprenticeships Mrs.E referenced might be one way to address some of the issues you raise.

  16. Erin - Philadelphia, PA
    July 17, 2013 at 08:37

    You create a strong case for non-traditional learning, outside of the classroom walls. How have you done this in your own life? Your argument makes me wonder about you: what are you passionate about learning? How do you go about following your own intellectual pursuits? What are some of the joys of following your own educational path, and what are some of the challenges?

  17. Al - Aldan, PA
    July 17, 2013 at 06:47

    Matthew, I agree with many of your thoughts...but not all. We do have an amazing ability to learn by doing and observing. That is an essential part of being human. But we can also benefit from the experiences of others. We can all learn from Newton's experience with the apple, without getting a headache. That is an essential part of being human too. I feel that we all need common ground or a strong foundation to build on. To me, schooling is what we build our education on. Where would Jobs and Gates be without at least a "schooling" in electronics and computers. Where would we all be if we didn't have a "schooling" in Windows or OSX?

  18. Jerry - PHILADELPHIA, PA
    July 17, 2013 at 06:45

    I agree with you. You find something that interests you and you do not need someone to teach you. You seek out the information on your own. I have always said, " get a job what you love and it will not be work plus you will be very good at it."

  19. MRS. E - fALLS, PENNSYLVANIA
    July 17, 2013 at 06:40

    WOW! You are a creative thinker. Before schools we had apprentices learning one on one from the skilled craftsman. Now we use a one size fit all approach. This is not the answer for today's needs. You have given me much to ponder.

  20. Bethany - Philadelphia, PA
    July 17, 2013 at 06:06

    The idea of education and schooling being separate is fascinating, and it makes me think of how important all our non-school-based educational moments are. What do you think about schools that try to employ 'education' rather than 'schooling'? Are they out there?

 

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