Current education system hampers learning

Patrick Brennan

Anyone who has taken an online course knows how easy it can be to slide by without actually retaining much information. These courses are the result of a trend over past decades which we must recognize to improve the quality of education.

This is the trend of mechanization – the replacement of real education by a system that reduces education to the completion of a set of objectives.

Under the current system, the goal of education is to check off a series of boxes, rather than studying and understanding a subject.

This type of education is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is problematic. At its worst, it only matters that a set of information flashes across the eyes of the learner and is directed back out her mouth.

Admittedly, this trend is not without benefits. By automating the teaching process, we are able to apply education to many more people.

It is also possible to oversee the education process from an administrative standpoint, and the role of the teacher can seem easier since it is determinate like a flowchart.

On the other hand, the mechanized teaching style has three obvious faults. First, it struggles to take into account the differences between students and their learning styles.

Second, the mechanization of education fails students by ignoring the fact that students will take the shortest path to completion. When the set of tasks to be accomplished are laid out, most students will try to do the least amount of work to complete them.

This means committing things to short term memory or applying concepts without really thinking about them. In this way, students can slide by without being affected or retaining anything.

For Martin Padlo, a computer science freshman, this happened in COM 101. “You had to memorize another list and another list,” Padlo said. “It’s not something I will retain.”

Third, and worst of all, this kind of education equips students to be cogs rather than leaders.

Sociologist Joel Spring said, “Schooling means … shaping the total character of the individual to meet the political and economic demands of the state.”

With mechanized, rote education, checking off the learning objectives, rather than actually learning, is the goal. Therefore, students perfect the ability to do what they are told to do it in a timely manner. Virtues of creativity and self-education take a back seat to conformity and compliance.

At UK, we want to prepare creators and leaders for the future. We have to accommodate for different learning styles, present material in a way that is conducive to retention and understanding, and encourage personal engagement and creativity with coursework.

While doing what we’re told is important, we should try to reverse the trend of more mechanized education to best educate and equip students for the working world.

Patrick Brennan is the assistant opinions editor of the Kentucky Kernel

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