Published On: Tue, Jan 6th, 2015

Why education has not been the answer

dekker_0When little 11 year-old Johnny raised his hand and said: “ Jesus was not married and he was always hanging out with twelve disciples who were also not married. Was Jesus gay?” The Catholic school expelled Johnny and his father gave him the thrashing of his life. Johnny was sent to a Jesuit boarding school in Puerto Rico and never saw his friends again. He also learned never to ask questions in school, ever again (true story, names changes for privacy reasons).

Johnny had understood, analyzed and surmised from the many stories he had heard at his school about the life of Jesus. By all means, Johnny deserved straight A's for his keen analytic and deductive abilities. Learning by asking questions, as Socrates did, is the most valuable method to develop students’ problem solving abilities. In our highly complex technological society problem-solving is the only way to survive, to thrive and triumph.

Education is often touted as the solution to break the social-economic stagnation barrier, but to be fair, not any kind of education. In most faith or ideology based schools, teaching revolves around rote memorization, line by line, page by page. The sole purpose of the classes is to ensure rote learning for board exams, where the material is expected to be regurgitated verbatim.

Pupils are not supposed to ask questions, challenge their teachers or elders, or make critical remarks. There is no room for questioning textbooks, no discussion and debate in classrooms and never any mention of good, versus bad sources of information. Alternate views are not appreciated and presented, or only as great indiscretions, as mortal sins.

In most of our schools' problems-solving skills are not taught or encouraged. Many teachers still behave like drill sergeants, and students their robotic puppets. That is the very reason why education is failing so miserably. The economy needs problem solvers and school graduates, as googlesque robots, will never break the social economic stagnation barrier.

Written by Jacob Gelt Dekker - Opinion Columnist for Curaçao Chronicle.

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