Many of us spent our grade-school years wishing we were somewhere else — anywhere else. Why? Because we were curious about the world, and this supposed “place of learning” did anything but satisfy our curiosity. We may not have known it at the time, but this curiosity is the most powerful learning tool we have, making tools like school, books and the Internet valuable.
Schools should not only allow curiosity-driven learning but ignite it. If the questions we ask determine what we learn, we shouldn’t be asking questions like, “Will this be on the test?” “How many points is this worth?” and “When is this due?” When a daring, young pupil ventures out to make a more inspiring inquiry, such as the simple “Why?” the classic refrain, “Because I said so” puts it to rest. Since we can’t find a way to fit that puzzling reality to our outside lives, what happens in the classroom stays in the classroom. Later in life, we spend our first months of higher education getting reacquainted with the inner child that so rudely got in the way of the teachers’ lectures all those years ago.
The efficiency of our system doesn’t matter when students who managed to succeed at school fail at life. Lectures and textbooks aren’t doing the trick. The very things we need to be utilizing (multimedia, the Internet, etc.) are students’ biggest distractions! We must engineer a more aesthetic experience, create cross-cultural collaboration and make learning personal.
St. George, Utah