Is our youth losing their interest in studying?
We are finding it harder and harder to get our kids to buckle down and study, which begs the question, have children lost their values? There was a time when very few individuals would challenge their parent’s expectation that they finish their education. But as we move deeper into the age of high-tech, more of our youth are rejecting this path. Teens seem to be very uninterested in their studies. Parents complains are that ‘children are too distracted’ or that ‘kids today don’t value education enough’ but is this really so?
I think not. It’s not that our youth don’t care about education or that they are too preoccupied with so many other things that they can’t focus on their studies. People are voracious learners, children more so, and given enough latitude, they will seek out things to learn on their own. I think the youth have already decided how they want to be educated and they are quite committed to educating themselves, only not in the places we insist they go to for education.
Our Educational Models are Flawed and Outdated
Many parents would be glad if their children would spend less time on Facebook, YouTube, Tumbler or the like, believing that these are taking away from their children’s study time. Parents need to understand the reason why their children spend so much time connecting with friends and watching all those videos. It is because videos are an incredibly efficient way to learn. Understand that I am not advocating that children be left alone to do as they please. What I am saying is that parents should allow their children to learn in an environment where they are most engaged and where they are most inclined to learn.
Studies have shown that children learn best when they study in groups. They direct their own focus of study based on the needs of the group. Individuals contribute their own understanding and everyone is brought up to speed by the members who already ‘get it’. Kids learn better and retain more information when they are allowed interact freely within diverse study groups of mixed ages.
Notably also, much learning is achieved by watching and doing. Children in a natural environment will learn most skills by watching other people do it. That is why YouTube is up there among the favourite ways teens choose to learn how to do something, whether it be to dance, to play the guitar, to skateboard or to turn their phones into a musical instrument.
Let the World be their Oyster
In a TED talks video, Chris Anderson discusses how web video powers global innovation. He notes how the arts and sports have progressed so rapidly since streaming video became available over the internet. Dancers, musicians athletes and pretty much anyone could show off their ‘stuff’ on YouTube. Other people would watch, comment and build on their work and in turn post their own improvements. It’s collaborative learning on a global scale. Everyone has access to information from people who have already made significant headway in their particular field of interest, accelerating the learning process geometrically.
This has created a surge of innovation in almost every field especially in technology, art and sports because whether we will admit it or not, the best teachers are no longer found in the classrooms, they are out there in the world, making things happen and teaching us all through video and blogs and wiki if you would only care to learn.
I have therefore come to the conclusion that if there is only one thing that governments, schools and parents can do to impact education most profoundly, it would be to provide every child with a good computer and a high quality internet connection and allow the world be their school. Give children the access to the best that is out there and you give them the opportunity to transform our world for the better.
I leave you with 3 videos. The first video discusses the flaw in our current educational paradigm and why it direly needs to be updated. The second video makes an argument for “Crowd Accelerated Innovation” and how this could possibly turn the 9 billion people on earth into “net contributors instead of net plunderers”. The third video presents a radically new educational model that actually engages the youth, and makes them want to stay in school. Watch and learn.
Video length: 11 mins. and 41 secs.
Learning in Real Life
Video length: 22 mins. and 3 secs.
The Studio School
Geoff Mulgan: A short intro to the Studio School
Video length: 6 mins. and 16 secs.