What is an Education Worth Fighting For?

* The article below belongs to an interview for YouthSpeak global movement on Education powered by AIESEC.

The world is in big trouble. We’ve already heard this thousands of times. The media has done too well at keeping us aware of the formidable battle facing our generation, and generations to come. We are in the war zone. To survive, we need in our arsenals both timeless wisdoms, and relevant skills. In short, we must become more to endure the battle of today. And we must equip the next generations to withstand the battle of tomorrow. One question surfaces: Is that what our current education system does?

“1.0 schools cannot teach 3.0 kids,” says John Moravec, founder of Education Futures and author of Knowmad Society – a mind boggling book that challenges every conventional concept of education.

I believe in it. To expand Moravec‘s viewpoint, I think in this 3.0 world, a myriad of 1.0 education institutions and 1.0 educators are obscuring the collective progress of humanity’s intellect and consciousness.

Almost a century ago, Albert Einstein warned “You can’t change the world with the same kind of consciousness that created most of those challenges in the first place.” Yet, changes happen in most universities, schools, class rooms, curricular, and teachers, at the speed of tortoise; while the wild hare of this world is dashing three thousand miles ahead.

Mind you but an education system that once produced a generation who, besides the flares in science and technology, dropped bombs, burst banks, wiped out forests, trashed oceans, is unlikely to churn out warriors.

“Change” is inadequate. The disparity is too large. It’s time to create a new one: new schools, new educators for a new generation.

Reforming education movement has happened in various corners of the world, advocated by renowned educators such as Sir. Ken Robinson, Sugata Mitra, Kiran Bir Sethi, Ramsey Musallam. The jigsaw puzzle of a new education is still being put together, though we already see some overarching pillars:  

A self-driven curricular: enable personal leadership.

Through out sixteen years in my public education, I was never asked the question “So, what do you want to study?” I didn’t know that this is a choice.

“Student questions are the seeds of real learning — not some scripted curriculum that gives them tidbits of random information,” educator Ramsey Musallam knows it.

In the new education each student creates his own education to awake his distinct set of capabilities and aspirations. The teachers become the listeners, the supporters, the facilitators, the igniter of curiosity, and the cheer leaders of courage. The teachers ask question, instead of giving answers, with the unshakable belief that the students can.

Self-study should be the primary way. In this age of Google when all information is a click away, industrial classroom, thick text book, and parroting students are ludicrous, for it creates blotches that decay the proactive mind. The legendary British educator and Nobel Prize in Literature winner Bertrand Russell had a teaching commandment saying “Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.” Created nearly a century ago, this wisdom is timeless.

A self-driven approach cultivates a proactive attitude, and from there springs personal leadership: a strong value system, a clear awareness of self, a sense of purpose.

This ultimately helps the students to answer three biggest questions: “Who am I?”, “What is my passion?”, and “How can I contribute?”

An emphasis on art: foster creativity and nourish free-thinker.

Creativity and innovation are the answers for our constantly changing world. Many societies consider a vocation in art synonymous with poverty, and the teaching of art has been undermined for decades. Sir Ken Robinson acclaims “School kills creativity” in one of the most popular talks in TED history.

Creativity is daring and vulnerable. And so do those who dare to create. Not everyone needs to be artist, but an individual has the right to learn to access our right-brained mode, where lies global thinking, new ideas, intuition and other higher forms of consciousness.

Only then can ground-breaking innovations in medicine, agriculture, and all other fields take place.

A DO way of learning: take the plunge, the world needs DO-ers

I overheard a conversation in a café the other day:

- So, what are you gonna do after graduation?

- I don’t know. I guess I will continue with Master. It’s good to be student.

This baffles me. Since when have schools become the asylums from real world? The world is desperate for DO-ers, who after contemplating the idea of a better world, stand up from their couches, walk out of the door and fight for it.

The new education let students work on real projects with real goals that address real issues, right in school years. The teachers become the coach, the guide, and the advisors of projects. That’s how they thicken their skin to fail, try again, fail again, fail better – to borrow the words of Samuel Beckett. That’s how they develop a zest for living, for sharing their gifts with the world, and for creating impact in the most naked and courageous way.

For me, that is an education worth fighting for: an education enables personal leadership, fosters creativity, nourishes free-thinkers, and inspires a DO-er’s plunge to the unknown. Alright, thank you for reading! Contemplating time is over. Get up. Get out. Fight. Do.

What about you?

What is an education worth fighting for?

How can you design your own education?

Share your voice here!

More on the topic of education and personal leadership, read Hey Young People! Take a Gap Year to Claim your 20s or The Courage to Choose and the Search for Passion

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