Friday, June 14, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

The trouble with traditional schooling

Update : 15 Sep 2015, 07:09 PM

 “It should be obvious that, even with schools of equal quality, a poor child can seldom catch up with a rich one. Even if they attend equal schools and begin at the same age, poor children lack most of the educational opportunities which are casually available to the middle-class child ... So, the poorer student will generally fall behind so long as he depends on school for advancement or learning.”

-- Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society

Now, allow me to share some thoughts that are open for discussion. It is problematic to see that a good number of students are not necessarily going to schools or universities solely for learning, but what seems to be a greater priority is to get certification. It is hoped, by the students and their families, that this certification will result in jobs or in further learning opportunities.

However, this is where private companies/job-providing institutions and other educational institutions can come in. If private companies played a part in decreasing the emphasis on certification and increasing the emphasis on certain experiences that they want students to have -- if need be, a whole checklist of experiences -- then this whole need to go to schools and universities for the sole sake of certification will decrease as well.

Private companies, for example, could have a checklist of:

I want employees to be able to communicate fluently in these languages I want employees to be able to code a program I want employees to be able to analyse this data and create an an infographic that summarises the analysis I want employees to be able to organise events I want employees to be able to write a report

These checklists could be generated by individual companies or by crowd-sourcing ideas from the industry. Upon grasping an understanding of such a list, students can figure out different ways in which they can prove that they have these skills, and not just through certification from schools and universities. Students can work towards ensuring that they have these experiences outside the realm of schools and universities.

Private companies should come forth and be open to accepting other means of being able to prove these skills. If need be, private companies should list out what these other acceptable means are, and, if possible, even provide these means for potential employees to display their skills.

However, in such a platform, private companies should be open to understanding that, at the end of the day, the ability of the employee matters and not really which space which he or she spent time and money in, where it may very well be the case that the space, ie the school or university, did not provide the quality education that it was supposed to provide.

Technology has enabled us to learn in more than one way, so that students no longer need to waste time and money in spaces that are proving themselves dismal in providing quality education. There are multiple virtual spaces online, massive open online courses (MOOCs), programming platforms, language platforms, etc, which can enable one to acquire technical and non-technical information, while also acquiring new skills. In comparison, the usage of technology would probably be cheaper than spending money on what is claimed to be an “education.”

However, having mentioned what has been said above, I do believe that one needs “space” and human interaction even if they are using technology, and this is where the need to preserve and maintain certain types of public spaces is important. In order to access a “virtual” space, people still require physical spaces. People who can afford it have access to such physical spaces which are conducive to learning and collaboration, such as coffee shops and private spaces.

However, if both public and private entities can contribute to provide these spaces that are conducive to learning and collaboration as public spaces in the city, then I believe we will see a difference in how the citizens of our city go about learning and developing. Now, how these spaces can be conceptualised and strategically created is still up for discussion, hopefully not in the distant future. 

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