Educate Yourself

See something you want? Chase it. See something that intrigues you? Try it. See something that you have a question about? Research it.

I won’t lie; I absolutely dislike the teaching style at high schools nowadays. In my classes last year, the boy to my left was constantly falling sleep. On my right, a fellow classmate was often doodling or catching up on Snapchat streaks. I was worse than both of them: frantically re-reading and highlighting my biology textbook, passing my exams, and then having all the information wiz out of my mind the day after. How productive.

Who’s to blame? Us? The teachers? Hardly.

The traditional “chalk and talk” method or the “going through power point slides with the lights off” technique, with little to no interaction with the teacher, proves to be the villain. We’re told what to do, how to do it, and when the due date is, while the information is imparted through lectures that go on for extended periods of time. If we’re lucky, there are assigned readings along with fill-in-the-blank sheets. The worst part? No critical thinking is involved, and there is no autonomy in our learning process. Let’s face it, mistakes are the worst things that we can do, and they’re highly frowned upon. By the end of class, we’re too bored to ask relevant questions, already stressing about the next exam. We’re unwilling to think about anything but what we’re told to think about: that particular biology or algebra lesson.

Why is education so limiting? The arts and mathematics aren’t treated equally anywhere in the world, one is an option class and the other is compulsory. No one bothers with ideas and creativity, only test results finalize who is intelligent and who is unschooled. People ask me if I want to go into medicine, engineering, or law, and that’s where the list ends. See anything wrong with that? We’re confined to a typical path to success. My entire life I’ve been told that if I don’t find a stable job, I won’t be successful. Ridiculous.

Recently, I’ve become fascinated with the inquiry-based teaching style that defeats the great challenge of motivating students. Now you may be wondering what in the world I’m going on about, but let me explain. The process starts off with students posing questions and scenarios, triggering their curiosity. They pitch their well-developed question, as well as any emerging hypothesis to answer it. You then have the students answer their own questions by researching the topic, engaging in evidence-based reasoning. At the end of it all, students become the teachers of the class, presenting their new findings, and participating in collaborative class discussions. Seems like a lot of work, right? (Yes, it is a lot of work.) Fortunately, the benefits are crazy astonishing from nurturing student passions, activating their extraordinary capacities for innovation, and fostering a love of learning to solving issues that haven’t even been conceived. What I love about this program is that it incorporates the idea that there is more than one type of intelligence.

Learning is an undeniably powerful and enthralling experience. It allows us to explore the world with our body and mind. With back-to-school coming up next week, I want to emphasize how significant it is for all of us to take control of our learning, and our pursuit of intellect. Take a couple of dance lessons, or boxing classes, check out Coursera, ALISON, Ted talks, Ignite, and many other educational platforms. Push your boundaries again and again.

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