What does it mean to “educate”?

I keep wondering year after year if there is truly a different way to “do” school. Three decades of being a student and teacher/leader in both the public and funded independent school systems have provided me with three decades of the same model for learning.  School buildings look similar, classrooms are four walled and full of desks and chairs. The end result is another year of learning, another set of graduates.

The Industrial Revolution provided an impetus for business/industry to set up a factory model of education. At this point in history, education is deeply tied to government (through funding and legislation), to industry (who are driving forces behind many curricular changes), and to our economy (tough to get a job without a high school education).

Much good has come from this system. And many changes to the system have occurred throughout the decades. But the core of the system is the same. So, is it possible or even good to break from the factory-based schooling model and try something different? A difficult task if we have all gone through this system and it is all that we have ever experienced.


About tjthiessen

explorer, administrator, consultant, student, leader
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2 Responses to What does it mean to “educate”?

  1. Ellen Ford says:

    There are some excellent points made in this article. I have been struggling with this question myself as an educator. Knowing what we do about the ways in which individuals learn can we really be all things to all students? Are “institutions” really the best model for learning? I don’t have a lot of answers to my questions, but I am losing faith in a system that seems at odds with itself in so many ways.

    • tjthiessen says:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Ellen. If we focus on the System as a whole, I would agree with you that hope seems to fade. My second post (“part two”) focuses more on initiatives and individuals. What continues to give me hope are the individuals that work within the system–educators who are truly inspired/inspiring, educators who truly focus on individual students’ needs, educators who truly care about the students within the System. Individuals make the difference, and can (eventually and hopefully) change the System.

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