Sunday, May 25, 2008

Redesigning Education: The case of the Missing Subjects!

In my previous posts, I have mentioned about the worrying perception that what we are currently teaching our young charges right now, will not necessarily be relevant a few years down the road. In fact the scary part about things is that, if one were to put it in into perspective, none of our academic credentials, whether be it a degree, or even a Master's, would be lending a significantly greater amount of value to us, due to the short shelf-life that they have. Which makes me worry, not so much because of this short-expectancy, but more so on the veiled perceptions that having them would bring. It is thus no longer enough to just have these defining credentials as part of our names, but more importantly it IS the attitude and the follow-ups that we have after gaining them. I still remember being a little pissed at some of my own peers in the teaching profession a while back, who seems to have lost, or seems to have not even a little inkling of desire, to at least attempt to further their academic pursuits, not so much that I would want them to gain any other 'papers', but more so, to just empower in them a greater degree of rigours in their thinking, approaches and hopefully, in their capacity to think beyond the immediacy of just lesson planning and delivery. I mean how can we stand and symbolise ourselves as the beacon of education, being a teacher/educator, when we ourselves are not 'WALKING THE TALK'?

One concern that I do have beyond this credential anomaly is in the area of subject 'SILOFICATION', for lack of a better term. Breaking down subjects into their basic areas of English, Mother Tongue, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, etc, have definitely been something that perhaps all of us have found to be an a socialy acceptable form of knowledge sub-classification, regardless of the levels that our charges are exposed to. But seriously shouldn't there be a rethink on these basic sub-classification, what with the notion of integrative disciplines that are becoming more pervasive in years to come. I mean it was not just long ago that the area of life sciences have shown a great degree of promise, in all its various good or bad ramifications, towards humanity. A large knowledge base in all the various disciplines, and not necessarily Biology for that matter, was then needed to sort of become the unifying form of what a basic grounding of life sciences would need. And who can forget the areas of BioEngineering, a marriage between Biology and Engineering. Or how about Biomimicry, a discipline that studies nature’s best ideas
and then imitates these designs and processes to solve human problems. The examples are endless, but here we have, in the schools, which presumably are preparing our next generation of workers and leaders, practices that I do think are outdated in both its subclassification of knowledge and skills, and perhaps even in its approaches.

So how about it, if I can, be given this opportunity, to present my idea of the next generation of knowledge sub-classification. Here goes my list then:

1) Language and Communication skills
2) Applied Mathematics and Algorithms
3) Industrial Green Sciences
4) Integrative Humanities
5) Sustainable and Systemic Design
6) Values Development
7) Performing and Fine Arts
8) Thinking Skills

What do you think?

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