Expert Advice

Schools Are Not Optional

10 December, 2018 | Ritu Kumar
  • Schools Are Not Optional
Development of the modern classroom in contrast to the early 1900's.

The other day, I was getting my daily dose of videos and articles while perusing my newsfeed, and I came across a video that piqued my interest. The video was all about how unnecessary schools are and how they are not preparing students for the world we live in today, or for the future.

The focal point was that schools are churning out robots and that the institution has not evolved, that it remains the same as it was 150 years ago. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about, as social media is full of such videos these days. The video mentioned that kids need to learn how to think creatively and independently. That we should teach kids to be innovative critical thinkers.

As a teacher trained in Canada and teaching in the American system for over a decade, it’s upsetting to hear that people outside of the education system are not aware of the changes that the North American education system has and continues to go through. The skills mentioned in the video are the exact skills that are nurtured in the education system today.

It’s interesting to hear an argument of why we don’t need schools anymore…but maybe we should take a moment to imagine a world without schools. What is the alternative? Homeschooling? Perhaps online education via video conferencing? If we look at the world we live in and how varied our parenting philosophies are, culture, background, values, how can we think that we can each educate our own children and then send them out in the world?

Yes, schools need to keep up with the ever-changing world we live in, there are aspects of education that do need to be updated. That is happening. I assure you, schools are not the same as they were 10 years ago, let alone decades ago.

But to think that we can abolish the institution is just nonsensical. School is a place where children grow and develop far beyond just their mathematic and literacy skills. These days if you walk into a first-grade classroom, you will see students using iPads to do simple coding, you’ll see students using Bloom’s Taxonomy (a model developed in 1956 to promote higher order thinking skills) to expand their reading skills, you’ll see students collaborating on engineering tasks to solve real-world problems. This is the reality of a classroom in 2018.

Although these examples would not be familiar or relatable to all, as these are specific to the American system, the education system globally is highly scrutinized, especially by educators themselves and undergoes a continuous cycle of development.

The gaps within specific systems are apparent to the stakeholders and changes are constantly in the pipeline, as can be seen with the work that The Boston Consulting Group did recently with the Haryana Education Department. Even countries like Finland and Korea that suffered from poor education five decades ago are now on the world’s stage for their outstanding school systems.

Teachers are trained to understand the needs of each child and differentiate their instructions based on learning styles and strengths of the students in their class. They stay abreast with the direction of education – including the skills required for the future.  

Collaboration, patience, acceptance, initiative, and adaptability – these are just some of the non-academic skills that are developed within a classroom. If we imagine a world without schools for a moment, how would children learn to communicate effectively with their peers? How would they solve problems with people of differing opinions?

As parents, we instil values and morals, teach right and wrong, and send our little ones to school to be educated. This system is in place for a reason.

The dynamic that exists within a classroom created by the unique personalities of 24 little beings (an average class size in an American school), each with their own set of likes, dislikes, ideas and perspectives, cannot be matched. The excitement to be together, the love of learning that is ignited, the discoveries that are made, the relationships that are built. That cannot be replaced.


About The author

Ritu Kumar is an elementary school teacher with over a decade of experience in international schools, with a particular focus and passion for literacy. Since becoming a parent, she loves using her background as an educator to think of creative ways to entertain her toddler.


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