HOUSTONxSHAKERS (TEDxHouston Talks) Message Board › Education's Purpose

Education's Purpose

Autif K.
user 4371854
Houston, TX
Post #: 1
Yesterday, I heard a lot of people talking about how education is supposed to develop children into renaissance men and women. In other words, it seemed to be a common view that it's best for people to be well-rounded. Can't say that I'm convinced that that's true. This is what it would take for me to be convinced: What does it mean to be well-rounded? That is, which subjects or topics must one know and to what extent? Why are those subjects absolutely necessary? Why does it matter if a person is well rounded? If I here adequate explanations to those questions, I could be convinced.

Now, to link this to a personal dream that I have, I believe that if an education could only accomplish one thing, it would be to teach people how to learn. At least that way, when people exit academia, if there's anything else they want to learn, they will be proficient in pursuing whatever interests they have. The way this links to my personal dream is because in 15 years, I want to create an elementary school that offers classes in logic & reasoning. In other words, I want to teach my students methods that would make them the most effective and efficient in determining what is true. Because, what's the point of learning if what we are learning is false.

Alright. That's what I have time to say for now.
A former member
Post #: 3
Autif,
Good post, I will deliberate on it and post my views.

I dont think the group gets a notification when something new is posted on to here, so you may want to copy the link and paste in an email to the members, so they could see.
Autif K.
user 4371854
Houston, TX
Post #: 3
Great. Thanks, Suyog. I'll do that.
Andrea
user 71140532
Kemah, TX
Post #: 1
Hello Autif,

It was my pleasure to meet you Sunday at Houston Shakers. I would enjoy speaking with you and getting to know you better. I have a few thoughts. Since my undergraduate degree was heavily weighted in the liberal arts, I wanted to tell you why I think learning the liberal arts is important; and why I also agree with you that teaching critical thinking is vitally important; and that I do not believe that the two are mutually exclusive.

Now, quantifying what to teach is a great question. Even if we thought we could all agree on what that would look like, I am certain it would change over time. That being said, it is my belief that a grounding in history, philosophy, literature, etc. can help a person formulate a personal ethic, personal morals, and learn from all those who have gone before us.

Teaching critical thinking can be integrated and was when I went to school. I especially remember having lectures in my high school during English class to teach us to ask questions about what someone said or wrote and formulate our own opinions. Ergo, my teacher was using a humanities course to facilitate critical thinking. I definitely think we need those critical thinking skills to "separate the wheat from the chaff" with the huge amount of information that is being thrown at us in ever increasing speed.

I don't see education's goal as turning out a product: a well-rounded child or person. Nor do I see it as sufficient to teach a person only the hard skills they need to do a job. Rather, I do see education as being a starting point, a structured on unstructured opportunity to begin putting together a field of knowledge for one's self and using what we know about what it means to be a human to help us begin that process. We have to begin somewhere in order to have something about which to think critically.

Now, this was written spontaneously so I may have other thoughts later or change my mind about what I have said. You see, I am still discovering what is "real" and "true."

Andrea

Judy C.
jichang79
Group Organizer
Houston, TX
Post #: 59
Yesterday, I heard a lot of people talking about how education is supposed to develop children into renaissance men and women. In other words, it seemed to be a common view that it's best for people to be well-rounded. Can't say that I'm convinced that that's true. This is what it would take for me to be convinced: What does it mean to be well-rounded? That is, which subjects or topics must one know and to what extent? Why are those subjects absolutely necessary? Why does it matter if a person is well rounded? If I here adequate explanations to those questions, I could be convinced.

Now, to link this to a personal dream that I have, I believe that if an education could only accomplish one thing, it would be to teach people how to learn. At least that way, when people exit academia, if there's anything else they want to learn, they will be proficient in pursuing whatever interests they have. The way this links to my personal dream is because in 15 years, I want to create an elementary school that offers classes in logic & reasoning. In other words, I want to teach my students methods that would make them the most effective and efficient in determining what is true. Because, what's the point of learning if what we are learning is false.

Alright. That's what I have time to say for now.


First off, I can't believe that people are ACTUALLY USING THE FORUM! I may or may not have tears forming right now...

Now onto your question/thought of being well rounded, I understand your points, and I agree that education should be geared towards teaching the aspects of "learning". I like how you left your questions of well roundedness vague. At first glance, I thought that you were referring to the arts, but as I was formulating my response I realized that you left that question for us to formulate - sneaky aren't you?

I'll give you a little insight into my childhood/background. I'm Chinese (shocker, I know), and growing up I not only had a tiger mom, I had the entire gang of lions, tigers, and bears. I had cousins that got mathematical and science scholarships at UCSD, Harvard, NYU, and Taipei University. Whereas I had to use my fingers and toes to count anything double digit (I still do that sometimes when I'm adding the tip). My parents determined my fate when we were 10 years old: I would be a trial lawyer since I was an all state debate champion, and my sister would go into med school because she got an A in biology. Flash forward to college: My sister got an F in pre-cal, and I flunked out of astrophysics at Rice ( I thought the course was astrology, and not astronomy - I'm not joking).
What's my point? I HATED school. I HATED learning. I HATED going to class. I honestly thought that I was borderline mentally disabled. However, that all changed when I enrolled in a creative writing class. I was able to create worlds without any boundaries. Logic and reasoning need not apply there. It was in my own creative writing bubble that I was able to explore what my mind had to offer, and that transformed me into an entirely different person. I wanted to "learn" about everything! I wanted to push my former limitations. Even better though, I wanted to push the limitations of my friends, and especially my family.
Am I a well rounded person? I believe that to be an impossible question to answer since I'm still living, and especially since I'm still learning. I do believe that due to my chance meeting with creative writing, I was able to push my limitations and seek out others that would do the same - hence the birth of the Houston Shakers.

Here's one of my favorite TED videos given by Sir Ken Robinson on education. Let me know what you think about it.

Cheers.
Autif K.
user 4371854
Houston, TX
Post #: 7
Yea, I left the term "well-rounded" as vague because I think it is a vague term. It sounds like its open to a lot of arbitration.

So, I will repeat the point which Mae Jemison would sympathize with. Creativity and logic are not mutually exclusive. I'll give you a specific example. This is an example from my personal experience. I just bought a mini projector to watch shows and play my games on the wall of my room. It's cool because I have a "big screen" without the TV, but the wall is textured which makes the picture from the projector look grainy. Also, I noticed that my blinds don't keep all the light out of my room. I took a black bed sheet and stuck it over the blinds with thumb tacks. Here is where the logic comes in: "If I can use thumb tacks to hold a bed sheet on the wall over my blinds, then I can use thumb tacks to hold a white bed sheet on my wall for my projector." And, there you have it. A creative solution arrived at logically. Logic often involves the application of principles and that's an example of when I did so.

As for how you hated school, learning, and going to class, I have a speculation as to what would've made your own as well as many other students experiences much more desirable. I don't think elementary school should be 100% compulsory as it is now. I think every school from elementary to high school should have some sort of methodology to figure out what their students like. Then, they should offer classes to cater to their students. Of course, the entire educational curriculum cannot be optional. There are some classes everyone needs to take. The easiest example is English. Anyway, a key to getting students to learn is having them learn what they want to learn. If they don't want to learn what is presented to them, it's an uphill battle as far as their motivation is concerned. After that, it just needs to be insured that content is both learned and delivered in an interesting way.

Autif
A former member
Post #: 9
I hate to write long lines in an age of 140 characters. Let me number the points below..

1. I don't think there is one breath or even one mindset answer to these questions.
2. Can a term 'well rounded' be absolute or is it relative as well as subject specific?
3. I wonder if the answer to what can be taught in schools will wary greatly from people to people depending on their experiences in their lives.
4. Should education be treated as one of a goal in life or more like insurance? For eg. you take leaps of faith a few times in life, if things work out for you great, if not would you be able to get by with finding a job with the help of education you would have had?
5. I did not like going to schools, did not like math one bit and could not believe my mom would push me so far to score well in math. Yet today, I thank my life for having taken the course it has taken over the years.
6. Could there have been no betterment in the course my life has taken? You bet there could have been, but that again is specific to who I am today and what I want to do.

I don't know if I agree with statement 'the elementary schooling should not be compulsory' just yet. What I can agree to is having more "end-in-mind" teaching approach in which before children are taught any advance courses there should be a way for children and teachers to know what this could lead to and see if that fits the child's situation (not just whether they like it or not).
Autif K.
user 4371854
Houston, TX
Post #: 9
Hey Suyog,

I have multiple responses to relay to you in this thread since I'm kind of pressed for time right now. There are points which you argued with me on that I never argued against. This is one of them. You indicated that I said that an elementary school should not be compulsory. I said that it should not be 100% compulsory. It seems you interpreted me as saying that elementary education should be 0% compulsory. When I said that elementary education should not be 100% compulsory, I meant that it should be some degree between 100% and 0% compulsory (i.e. some degree less than 100%). I'm saying that it should be neither 100% nor 0% compulsory. In other words, some subjects should be mandated, but others should not. That's why I said that it makes sense to mandate subjects like English since a common language is necessary to communicate within a society.

That's all I have to say for now, but I'll probably have more to say tomorrow.
A former member
Post #: 10
Autif, I think you caught it right, I may have interpreted it wrongly. I like that analytic thinking of yours dude.

cheers
A former member
Post #: 11
And the points I have mentioned are not to argue with anyone but just to make my points based no my views and what I read here. I may not have even finished reading anyone post before I write my views, just goes on to show that my writing is not targeted against a thought, though it may have been taken from that thought.
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