Education in our modern system sucks. Wait a minute - it's not even a modern system. Globally our education system is based around outdated victorian methods, memorization and a generation of teachers that feel afraid of their students - afraid and threatened by children that to a large extent are smarter than they are and will be paid more, achieve more and live more than they do.
Let's face it - teacher is not exactly the position that everybody dreams of getting out of high school. And while it's easy to say teaching is a vocation, it's much more difficult to face the fact that today's teachers, in Europe, the anglo-saxon world and possibly in asia are chronic underachievers with problems relating to reality.
This sounds dramatic yes? Well it's meant to make people agressive. The fault lies with a world that's more interested in keeping their children quiet and occupied and conforming, than making them innovative, creative and intelligent builders.
It was ok in the past to build labourers in schools - we needed labourers. People to work in the factories, people to do monotonous tailorean jobs in automotive, steel, agriculture and other primary industries.
Today the western world is faced with globalisation, and we have enough trouble moving our existing labour force to higher tech skills without the education system creating a whole new generation of labourers.
In addition to this we're all getting older, so in a world where the working life may be 60 years instead of 30, adult education is more and more vital as people need to reskill and reskill and reskill.
So what can we do to improve education? What areas do we need to focus on?
Areas to focus on are easy. We need to start focusing more on languages. Every child graduating from high school should have a good grasp of English and should enjoy using it. This applies even for German and French nationals. English is the key to the modern world. Most importantly, at the moment, it's the key to technology. If you don't speak English - it's hard to get around on a wider internet. It's hard to learn how to program well and it's hard to achieve in a world of multinationals.
Then a second language must be mandatory (if English is not already the second language). Don't be afraid of pushing children. Challenge them, make them enjoy learning.
We need to focus on technology in particular. There's no excuse for someone to graduate from school and not be able to type. That's like not being able to write with a pen. There's no difference. Equally the concepts behind programming should be taught. They're not that hard - if taught properly - and they're much more important than biology or astronomy.
What they lead to are wider problem solving skills - thinking out of the box. That's one advantage the western world has over the asian world. Our children can think out of the box - and that' s one unique trait that will maintain our competitiveness in a world of multinationals.
What we can do to improve education is to spend real money. Forget about retirement money - the old people aren't producing - and paying for their high living standards is draining the rest of the western world. Additionally we all know it's not sustainable. Instead we need to invest in a vast younger generation that will create wealth that can then be spent to some degree on looking after the elderly - but that wealth has to exist first. Our survival needs to be assured first.
Spend that money on decent teachers - teachers earn nothing and they perform badly. I've rarely met a good teacher in my student life and equally rarely met one at university. Either we need to completely destroy the existing structure of the education culture - or create a parallel culture for those children we identify as being in the top 30 percent. Does this sound elitist? It is. It's the only way we are going to survive with face in a world of multinationals.
Spend that money on learning technology. Spend it on new language education projects. Spend it on student experiences that create a desire for learning. Seeing a poet, an author, a director a musician a businessman and getting real life mentoring is something that is priceless.
Spend that money on one on one learning. Fundamentally socialization etc.. is well taught on the sportsfield - let's leave it there. Learning itself is best taught in small ratios - small ratios of teachers to students.
Spend that money on buying off the parents. Parents have an agenda with their children, but with few exceptions (I was lucky) all they really want to do is be convinced that their child is ok and be left alone by their children. Offer the parents this to keep them quiet while you extend their child's ability. Parents are naturally conservative - don't let them interfere with an education program.
Alternatively the most important education comes from parents. The learning that sticks also comes most from parents. But that depends largely on luck. The number of parents who are capable of this is very low and therefore can't be relied upon in an education program.
Equally spend that money on educating the parents - but that's likely to be the most expensive and almost impossible.
Look to the old man of the mountain for the real answers.