Thoughts on 21st century education

This past week, I was in discussion with a few people on Twitter about the state of modern education, principally in the United States, but in the Western world in general.

I was sent a couple of articles to read. The first was about the enormous amount of homework that children do. This one is particularly true of children in the United States. And then someone sent me a follow-up article, about how children are starved of play time these days.

The first article infuriated me. Cultural exports have long suggested that American children are overworked, even compared to little old me, from America’s special relationship, the UK, but the article confirmed it for me: American kids are being forced into several hours of homework every night, even in some cases for kindergarten!

Days off

Parenting wouldn’t be nearly as taxing if you could just get one day off a week

Stop making breastfeeding weird

Even before I left the UK, people were starting to get a bit weird about breastfeeding in public, but it was still fairly commonplace.

After moving to the States, I’ve realised that it’s an action which is much more taboo on this side of the pond, which infuriates me to no end.

Martina showed me a blog post about it recently that sums up exactly how I feel about it, so I encourage you to read it and actively support breastfeeding mothers and stand against bigots who see naturally nourishing your child as some sort of shameful act.

Read the blog post

Stats can be so misleading

As a new parent, I’ve found myself reading a lot about child-rearing and the like and one thing has become very apparent that is really starting to annoy me.

People parade statistics around far too much and hold them in too high esteem. Some examples of stats I’ve read recently include:

Breast-fed babies are 24% more likely to be upward mobile.

Breastfed babies are 41% more likely to go to college.

This sort of statistics drives me nuts, because it is so often misrepresentative of what’s going on.

People scanning those stats may quickly come to the conclusion that breastfeeding your baby will result in your child having higher upward mobility and being more likely to go to college.

Intimacy

I think I know why God insists on marriage before sex: it’s not so much that you need a lot of intimacy to create a baby, but you sure do need a lot of intimacy to look after your wife before, during and after birth.

Don’t interrupt thinking thinkers

As I was writing my last blog post, I was interrupted by someone who just wanted to have a quick chat and make small talk to break up the morning. She does this on a somewhat regular basis, peering over the cubicle wall and staring at me, waiting for me to recognise her, even though she can see that I’m deep in thought and have my headphones on.

Society commands that we stop in our tracks and respond to the person who is addressing is, which is part of the reason that Jason Fried thinks that offices are so unproductive. Despite being in the middle of a sentence, I had to stop, take my headphones and engage her in her own desires for communication.

Ken Robinson discusses the current state of education

It is always a pleasure to listen to Ken Robinson speak. He’s one of my favourite orators and even though his delivery is very calm and controlled, it always stokes a fire inside of me. In this talk, he discusses the current state of education and how the culture of schools is failing the children that attend them. In particular, the emphasis on standardised testing and “No Child Left Behind” are ironically, leaving millions of children behind.

Insist on changing the current school culture and filling the gaps created by your child’s education: it’s critical to well-rounded children who enjoy learning who go on to be independent thinkers and creators.

The burden of communication

The burden of communication is on the communicator

For me, communication is an art and I completely agree that if you want to be understood, it is your duty to clearly and effectively communicate your intent to your audience. As an introvert, this isn’t as easy for me, but a solid grasp on spelling, grammar and your lexicon certainly makes it much easier.

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