When I was a student I made some money by helping young people to understand Mathematics. I Listened to the way they tried to Solve the Puzzles their Teachers gave them and tried to find out their Personal Way of Reasoning.
When I found their reasoning problem I gave them a new Way to Think.
This approach was very effective. Sometimes I just needed one hour and the highly frustrated pupil transformed into a Lover of Mathematics. They saw that Mathematics is the Art of Beauty and Harmony.
The main problem most of these pupils had was the Why-Question. They wanted to know what was “behind” mathematics. In Mathematics there is no Why. Mathematics is “Just the Way it is“. It is a System of Rules you have to Apply.
When you are a Highly Creative Person Mathematics is a Highly Frustrating Science.
Highly Creative Persons are Highly Associative. They See Links between Every-Thing. They Build Bridges between Islands almost nobody knows they exist.
Mathematics is about creating Abstractions.
Highly Creative Persons Think with their Imagination. They Jump from Images to Image.
The Images of the Mathematicians are Abstract Symbols and most of the time the Mathematical Symbols are chosen without any relationship to the Situation they want to represent.
If Creative, Associative, Persons are not able to See what Mathematics is trying to represent they are Lost in Space.
When we go back in History the Imagination (and not Thinking/Reasoning) was the most important “Thinking-Tool“. The meaning of the word “Think” originally meant “to See“.
The Art of Reasoning was based on detecting Correspondences.
The Ancient Scientists observed Nature and found out that certain situations “looked alike“. They used and linked Visual Metaphors to explain what they observed.
Abstract Concepts were always represented by something others could See.
The interesting point is that New Scientists are founding out what the Old Scientists already knew. Our Basic Reasoning System is based on Images.
When we move to the Abstract Domain we use Images (called Prototypes) to Reason. Abstract terms like Furniture are always represented by a prototype we have Seen.
This explains why most of the People are not able to See Mathematics and why most of the People have a big problem Understanding Ancient Knowledge.
They try to Map the Ancient Visual Landscape of Knowledge to the Modern Space of Abstract Terms they don’t understand.
They are looking for something that is already there.
They are asking the Why-Question while the Ancient Knowledge is Visible All Around Us.
Education was and is mostly achieved by imitation. Humans are extremely qualified to copy the behavior of others.
Therefore the best way to learn a trade is to copy the behavior of a qualified craftsman by serving as an apprentice.
The development of writing and book printing made it possible to distribute practical knowledge (experience) to many people. Later the practical skills were abstracted into theoretical knowledge.
The education of theoretical knowledge (Philosophy, Law and Rhetoric) and the expansion of this knowledge was the task of the Universities. They educated a very small part of the population (the Elite).
The Factory School
Our current education system dates back to the Industrial Revolution.
At that time agricultural workers were needed to perform, repetitive, factory jobs.
The schools were organized as a production-line that produced high quality (tested) products that were assembled according to the specifications (the Curriculum) of the Factory-owners.
The School Factory-Model is still operating but the Factory-owners don’t need the workers anymore.
They are transformed into Robots.
The Factories moved up in abstraction.
To find a decent job workers also have to move up in abstraction.
Every time when the Factory Schooling System has adopted its curriculum the outside world has moved up again.
When a School moves up in abstraction it moves to another level in the Schooling Hierarchy.
The schools of lower education are not able to move up because they have to serve the children who are unable to abstract.
The distance between the lower and higher levels is growing with an increasing speed.
When we look at the Cycle of Education it is very clear that we have to reuse an old model in a new infrastructure to solve this problem.
I have been involved with the Education System in many roles. I have been responsible for the education of children and adults and I have advised many companies and institutions (including the Dutch Ministry of Education) about education.I want to write a few blogs about this issue. This is the first one.
The first issue I want to write about is the System itself. I think the System is at the end of his life-cycle. It is dying.
The current System was created just after the war to handle many children (now called the baby-boomers). It’s focus was efficiency.
To be efficient the System was organized according to the paradigms that where part of the “Spirit of the Time” at that time. The main paradigm was the Factory.
The main product of the Factory is of course a product and the product has to be tested (exams).
There are many product-lines and they deliver products of high (University) and low quality.
The product-lines produce workers who are prepared to work in the product-lines of the next step, the real product-lines in the factories.
They deliver the norms for the previous step. At this moment the factories are using robots and we don’t need human robots anymore.
The current educational factories don’t know what product they have to deliver.
One serious problem is the Input. The Input has become more conscious every year. When I was at school we were accustomed to being programmed. We listened to the teacher and tried to do our utmost best.
This attitude changed of course when we got older and created big problems in the state of puberty. The state op puberty (resistance to power) now starts at a very early age. Females are much earlier in this state than males.
The big problem now is motivate children to learn something. They are easily bored and need an exiting environment to become motivated.
This environment is provided by commercial companies. They attract and manipulate young people with ease and provide them with goals in life that are very unrealistic. They also provide them with tools (games) that are much more exiting (and educational??) than what they are getting at school.
The last point is that we live in a highly materialistic society. This society provides simple goals that are related to making a lot of money. Many parents support their children in these goals and “making a lot of money” determines the major choices made in school.
At the end of the assembly-line the product looks around and is very dissapointed. There is no work available or the speed in which they are able to reach their materialistic goals is much to slow. The effect is a mid-life-crisis at thirty.
If you read this blog you see that the Educational System has to compete with the Mass Communication Industry and this Industry is very wealthy and global.
The Educational System is local and poor and is not using the Marketing tricks of the Mass Communication Industry. It is certainly not able to follow the speed of innovation in this industry. The current Schooling System is completely out of tricks.
To solve their problems we have to restructure the System but this is not possible for the simple reason that Old Systems are resistant to change. The only thing we can do is to wait for is a total collapse.
What can we do to change the Factory Scholing System?