What Traditional Schools Are Missing In Modern Education

Jun 22
Schools are traditionally seen as an expert source to educate kids about vital skills and prepare them for life. Being a teacher myself, I know how much effort goes into educating children and appreciate all the hard work teachers do, and especially have done during the pandemic years. School is indeed a valuable source of education, however it does not work solo, particularly in the fast-changing environment our kids live in.

In this article I’ll share my perspective about the gaps of modern schools and how we as parents can fill them. 

School focus before and today.
You don’t need to travel too far back in time to see the difference between the school of the past and today. Teachers have been historically viewed as pillars of the academic knowledge and less attention was paid to social development of children. There simply was not much need for that. Families were bigger, kids had many siblings and cousins often sharing the same house, they played in the street along with neighbourhood kids without parents’ supervision. Whether you want it or not, but the environment prompted to be socially fit, be able to develop relationships, find compromise, and establish friendships. No wonder, the need of the past was more in acquiring academic skills and the school fully met those needs.

What about today? Academic studies are widely available through tutors, printed and online resources, often free, waiting for parents to consent to drive kids’ knowledge of English, maths and other school subjects. What’s changed is the social map: families are smaller and often live at distance from each other, kids have a lot fewer siblings to play with, family gatherings are rarer. One of the things I feel kids are also missing is the opportunity to freely play outside of the house and explore the surroundings with their friends. The norms are different and this is where I feel social interactions of modern children are lacking. Hence, there is a greater need for social education at school today than in the past.

While schools slowly introduce more and more subjects around resilience, well-being and social studies, I feel there is still a long way to catch up with the realities of today’s world. Especially around turning the knowledge into skills through becoming socially fit. It goes without saying that progress created less need of labour and gave us the parents and our kids more free time. Yet, the world becomes increasingly more complex and what overwhelms adults is often applicable to kids. And it is up to us to confidently lead the way for our children through fast changing and fast paced life without losing our human identities.

There are certain skills parents should teach their children in order to cope with life’s challenges without relying solely on the school. Here are some of them:

1. Critical thinking.
Many parents agree that children need to learn how to analyse and filter information, how to recognise bias and not be influenced by others’ opinions. In the business course for kids "Un-Marketing: Critical Thinking Skills For Kids" I unveil some of the marketing effects designed to influence purchase behaviours. And I offer examples of critical assessment of marketing claims and advertising so kids could make independent buying decisions in the shopping environment.

2. Effective communication.
Given reduced social exposure of modern kids, it is important to learn early how communication works, how to make your voice heard without hurting others’ feelings, how to connect with people and how to interpret behaviours of those around them.

3. Project-based education.
Gone are the times when kids learnt pure maths or spelling. Realities of today’s world require kids to apply multiple skills at the same time. And the same applies to kids education. We need to teach children physics through road-building projects, or formation of plural nouns through designing a park landscape, or spelling through writing blogs about their topic of interest. These are just a few examples that demonstrate just how important to engage kids and connect academic concepts to real life.

4. Taking ownership of self-education.
And viewing it as a life goal, not school goal. This is definitely not the objective of most schools yet, but the one that may actually be the most important. I firmly believe students should pursue self-education beyond school and university, and make it a lifestyle, like healthy eating and exercising. They need to take responsibility of continuous learning and growing their personalities through a myriad of means available to them today.

Thus, while traditional schools are certainly making some progress toward raising socially apt children, at the end of the day it is up to us, the parents of modern kids to fill those gaps through extra-curricular activities, such as online learning for kids, and become inspirational examples to guide them toward a happy future.
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