In early January, Kanye West had himself a massive Twitter session, waxing Kanye about fashion, his mom, and his views on education, among other things. As he sees it, the current education system is out of date, structured to breed mindless factory workers. This of course is classist. What”s wrong with being a factory worker Kanye? Are you implying factory workers aren”t creative? But when he goes on to say/tweet that “schools should be designed to prep human beings for real life” I agree completely. I don”t necessarily believe our current education system does such prep work. I think of my high school experience and all the time spent colouring maps and engaged in inane tasks like that and wonder how that time could have been better spent. Why didn”t we spend time learning about conflict resolution or, learning about the importance and intricacies of consent and communication in Sex Ed. Further, how little time there was spent looking at the atrocities committed against indigenous people by European settlers/explorers, and how the Canadian governments of our history have treated First Nations peoples. Or a discussion about just how messed up residential schools were.
With all that being said, I don”t want to paint the school system with too broad a brush because there are many great teachers out there doing great work. And of course there were many things I did learn in high school, how to write an essay, how to organize my work, etc. But, with so much emphasis placed on marks, I also learned how to cram for a test, how to “play the game” so to speak. There”s a sort of track that the education system runs learners along, where the dominant belief seems to be that the purpose of school is to get a job and then once that job is obtained, one says goodbye to education and to learning- but that”s not true. Learning is a life-long process! How exciting a concept, that we never stop learning and growing. And to think, learning opportunities are available everywhere. Learning doesn”t always have to take place in a classroom. This seems obvious but is something I sometimes catch myself forgetting. And sometimes it takes websites like to remind me.
Speaking (literally) of learning outside of the classroom, check out this anthropology course on offer this semester at Columbia University on the Occupy Wall St. Movement. It raises some interesting questions about activism, support and learning. At the end of the day, it”s refreshing to see a post-Secondary institution (or at the very least the professor of the course) providing students with the opportunity to expand their understanding of what it means to learn.