ONE OF THE CRAZIEST THINGS to me is the idea that the education system we have today was designed 100 years ago. That system thought a child’s brain was an empty vessel. Put children in a classroom, pour knowledge into them, and get them to memorize that knowledge. Some would, some wouldn’t. Then test them on that knowledge and sort them into who would be worthy of going on to college and some of the best jobs and who would not.
If we turn schools into relationally rich communities where kids can restore their belief in the future and their belief in themselves, we are going to see a dramatic reduction in mental health symptoms.”
What we now know is that the human brain is malleable to experience and that context – the relationships, experiences, and environments in a child’s life – are the things that fuel and grow the learning brain. Not just having kids sit in a classroom passively, but having them apply knowledge in relevant and meaningful ways by doing, creating, and building things with their peers and with the support of adults they know and trust.
On top of that, today we know that no one learns the same way, so we can’t have a one-size-fits-all design. The “bell curve” on which our education system was designed is a statistical model that has been proven wrong over and over again. (See Stephen Jay Gould’s The Mismeasure of Man.) We’re never going to see the top of a child’s developmental range unless we have some capacity to personalize learning for each and every child and provide them with experiences that show them what they are capable of.