Throughout history, we seem to have structured our educational systems in a very particular way – by emphasising the importance of the “classroom”.
But this method isn’t all that effective unless teaching “compliance” is the main goal (and that’s an argument for another time).
It’s time to get rid of the classroom.
Let’s take schools and universities as a quick example to illustrate what I mean.
The School System
At school, you were most likely trapped in the prison of the classroom environment for about 6-7 hours every day. You were then also given several hours of “homework” on top of that.
But chances are that by the time you got around to finding time for “homework”, your brain was absolutely fried from spending so much mind-numbing time in the classroom.
But with all those hours in the classroom, do you TRULY remember learning much there?
The University System
And the same goes for university too.
You might not be there 6-7 hours a day (depending on your degree), but you’re still expected to rock up to all lectures, tutorials and seminars. Sometimes, you’re forced to, otherwise you lose grades for non-attendance.
And on top of that, you then have piles and piles of reading heaped onto you to do in your “spare time”.
The Problem With All of This
Here’s the problem with the above “system”:
Learning happens in the “mind” not the “classroom”.
Yet we have structured our educational institutions so that the vast majority of attention is placed on classroom attendance alone.
Does anyone else see the absurdity in this way of thinking?
I certainly did, first as a student, then as a university teacher (where I tried to convince topic coordinators that forcing attendance was the wrong way to go about things – they didn’t listen).
If you force attendance, all you will have is people attending for the wrong reasons. This is an inescapable fact.
After all, what are the consequences of not attending?
At school, if you don’t attend, you’re basically breaking the law (and your parents will probably pay the penalty). Sometimes the police even get involved.
At uni, if you don’t attend you often lose grades, and losing too much may mean having to repeat the topic the following year or semester.
So the major side-effect of forcing people to attend solely for attendance itself is this:
They won’t be prepared, and they won’t care.
Alternatively, some might just rock up with the expectation that learning will somehow magically occur to them once they’re in the classroom environment. Obviously, it won’t, and it doesn’t.
Because learning happens IN THE MIND first.
Not in the classroom.
In fact, classrooms are almost completely redundant in this process, unless they are used as a forum for discussion between people who have already thought things through beforehand. And THOSE people are going to attend class whether it’s compulsory or not.
Because they are already ENGAGED in their learning. They don’t need any other reasons.
By forcing others to attend – others who don’t care and don’t prepare – you destroy the system for everyone, and no one ends up happy.
It’s time to structure learning around the MIND first.
And the only way to do that is to give people a reason to become engaged and invested in their learning in the first place. That reason can never be forced.