Thursday, 15 January 2015

My Manifesto for Education - Reform and Renewal

The amount of useless memes in this blog....

Starting life in Australia as high school migrant, I have had a unique perspective of how different education and pedagogy are between the cultures. There are benefits and disadvantages on both areas. Furthering the idea, my personal Educational Manifesto is comprised of the following points:

1.   Education must shape the lives of its students
2.   Education must equip the students to create jobs for people
3.   There is no such thing as scarcity, only a lack of technology
4.   Teachers and parents need to work as a team
5.   Graduates are to subsidise their successors

Education must shape the lives of its students:

It has been said that primary teaches you how to follow instructions, high school teaches you to read the instructions, tertiary education teaches you to question the instructions and real life asks you for instructions. Aside for the previous statement attempting to be humorous, there are aspects of truth in a sarcastic statement (Freud, as quoted by William Berry). Socrates is recorded to have said, “Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel”. Education must shape the lives of those it teaches. Secondary education is an opportunity for young minds to expand into maturity by stimulating curiosity and interest. This leads to the need for education to be relevant and communicated successfully to each student as they are intellectually able to understand.

Gardner theorised that there are multiple intelligences. Classically there are celebrations for those who are academically inclined. In an address recognising him for receiving the 2011 Prince of Asturias Prize in Social Science, Gardner said, “What I was confident of, and remain confident of, is that, with respect to any individual, one cannot know the strength of weakness of a particular intelligence, just because one knows the strength or weakness of another intelligence.” In keeping education as a life-shaping force in the student, teachers need to realise that the lesson they may be trying to teach a resistant student may be because of the method of teaching as well as the lack of interest in the topic itself. This is not an excuse to misbehave, rather an opportunity to expand creatively presenting the same topic in a different manner, communicating to the student’s particular intelligence. Teachers must have flexibility in being able to assess the child’s ability and gauge if this topic is in harmony with the child’s main intelligence.

The instructors who are teaching need to have a passion for the subject such that their love for the topic shows in their methods of teaching. Socrates has once said, “I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.” Dr. Derek Muller obtained his PhD from the University of Sydney with the premise of using multimedia to instruct students about quantum tunneling. He also regularly updates a You-Tube channel called “Veritasium – the element of truth”. He asks, “What experiences promote the kind of thinking that inspires learning?” (Muller, 2014) Best Practice of involvement must be observed in teaching. A student engaged in curiosity will yield greater engagement than in rote learning. The purpose of secondary education is to equip students as they mature into adulthood. This prepares them for the decision making and the eventual repercussion of the decision they have made. Education is meant to provide the masses a means to improve them and to choose the direction of their chosen vocation. Allen has also said that education (Vocational Curriculum in particular) gives the students a chance to “make a contribution to the economic well being of society”.

Education must equip the students to create jobs for people:

In the historical sense, teachers are training students for current jobs that exists in the market. The relevance of this pedagogy was that areas of employment stayed constant for decades as was observed during the industrial (Modernist) age. Changes in technology occur so quickly that now it far outstrips curriculum. Point in fact, in 1991, B.A.S.I.C. programming language was first introduced to students and progressed into the coding language of Pascal. By 1999 Pascal has been outdated by C+ and 2000 graduates fluent in C+ now need to skill-up to other programming languages. This fast pace of change along with the uncertainty and seeming hopelessness has forged a post-modern attitude of relativism.

Teachers need to focus on the future when interacting with their students. The imagination and ingenuity of the children can be fostered by allowing a social collaboration, putting into practice a corollary of Vygotsky’s theories on the Zone of Proximal Development and Erikson’s theories on social interaction.

Essentially the students are eventually empowered to carry a creative streak to adulthood. In this manner each student has the potential to be an innovator of technology with an ability to be the employer, instead of the one seeking work.

There is no such thing as scarcity, only a lack of technology:

Economic Alchemy states that technology and innovation creates a near-infinite number of ways that resources can be conserved and stretched. The theory of Economic Alchemy was coined by Dr. Paul Pilzer in his book, “Unlimited Wealth: The Theory and practice of Economic Alchemy”. Pilzer stipulates that, “By enabling us to make productive use of particular raw materials, technology determines what constitutes a physical resource.” This attitude that there is no scarcity will encourage the students to think outside of the normal spectrum and progress their curiosity to enthusiasm. With enough support, that enthusiasm will turn into innovation. However, it is important to note that technology is a tool for education; it must always be treated as a tool, not a be all and end all. The heart of this movement will always be the willingness of teachers to buy into the idea and to passionately pass on this to their students.

Teachers and parents need to work together as a team:

The typical day allocates almost 8 hours of contact (8:30am – 4pm) for secondary students and their teachers. A teacher can be a major influence to a student. Nonetheless, the parent holds sway the student’s direction. There must be a partnership between the teachers and parents. The parents must act as an extension of the teacher’s ideas. That being said, Christian education and influence must be taught with the attitude of stewardship. We are not to force the children to “be” Christians, but be used by the Holy Spirit to spread the good news. As secondary students are questioning the validity of the scriptures, teachers need to be equipped to defend their Faith through apologetics training. Teachers should never assume that their authority and position as a teacher can give them the right to ignore the student’s questions about Christianity and Faith. Incorporating the parents also brings into view any potential issues caused by cultural backgrounds or any Faith beliefs that may be a hindrance to learning.

In the same vein, a sense of pride must be felt with the student’s origin. A person’s roots are a source of strength and pride regardless of where one came from. Parental support to the teacher through cultural insight will be invaluable.

Students also need to learn how to cope with disappointment. Communication between the teacher and parents can assist in the student’s ability to gain resilience despite the setbacks.

In terms of discipline, students need to know that their actions have a set of outcomes, both positive and negative. Some outcomes are consequences that require disciplinary correction. Collaboration in this matter strengthens the position of the teacher to impose the punishment but has the respect of the parent.

Graduates are to subsidise their successors

The choice of secondary education must be accompanied with the conscious decision of the student to give effort and do work. This attitude can be encouraged by the teacher through the lessons. Parents are also integral to the success of the student. They are reinforcing the ideals presented by the teachers, inculcating a deep love for learning and self-improvement.

The final outcome with all the ideals combined would produce graduates who posses attitudes of entrepreneurship, gratitude and generosity. Students who choose to matriculate are encouraged to do so, as well as those who would pursue a vocational tertiary education. The subsidy is purely voluntary but with the hope of the graduate’s willingness to participate as they, themselves were given the benefit. Comparing this model of finance with a complete socialistic method of “Free Education” the Danes have (Billing, S; 2014), the subsidy provided by graduates will be far more sustainable.

Economically, the subsidy provides the school with additional resources to invest in resources. Socially, the subsidy creates a culture of “Paying it Forward” where an act of kindness is performed without reciprocity. Potentially this gives us a generation of empowered job generators produced annually which impacts not only their circle of influence but on a national scale as well.


Billing, Soeren; Agence France Presse (18 Jun 2014) “ Free Universities and No Student Loan Deb is Hurting Denmark’s Economy”

Muller, D. A. (2008); University of Sydney PhD Thesis “Designing Effective Multimedia for Physics Education”

Muller, D.A (2014); “”This Will Revolutionize Education”

Pilzer, P. Z. (1990); “Unlimited Wealth: The Theory and Practice of Economic Alchemy”

Smart, S. (2007); “A Spectator’s Guide to Worldviews”

Zemelman, S; Daniels, Hyde, A (2012); Best Practice: Bringing Standards to Life in American Classrooms (4th Ed)

Kozulin, A., Gindis, B., Ageyev, V., Miller, S. (2003); “Vygotsky’s educational theory and practice in cultural context”

Duchesne, McMaugh, Bochner and Krause 2010; “ Educational Psychology”

Erikson, E.H. 1977; “The Life Cycle Completed: Extended Verison”

Film: “Coach Carter” (2005)

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