Fixing Education

As an extreme introvert and highly sensitive person, being thrown into a school of 1,000 very noisey, highly strung, hyper-active bullies was the worst possible setting to learn anything other than how much you can't stand being around such people. Many of said bullies would later spend time in prison. Their entire existence seemed devoted to making other people's lives as miserable as possible.

In the classroom, a self-righteous, pompous biggot tries to keep control of the rabble of wildlings. Once they have finally managed to silence the morons, reluctantly the tired teacher blurts out some incoherent information in such a manner as to drive out any curiousity, excitement or interest you might have had in various topics. They point out any mistakes or failures you make with such zeal and make out that the reason for your failings is that you are not trying. 'Must try harder' they would repeat over and over, but never taking any responsibility themselves for failing to teach or inspire you. Then when you failed to produce the set homework, a smack across the knuckles with a wooden ruler would be issued and you would be confined during break times as a punishment. For an introvert, the confinement is not a punishment at all - you get to escape from the chaos of the school yard and sit in a quiet place. They would tell you to ask for help if you got stuck, but then if you did find the courage to ask something - you would just be shamed again for not paying attention, and a highly confusing answer would be angrily and hastily shouted at you. You would be none-the-wiser regarding the question you had. The only thing to come of it would be a reinforcement of how much you despise and disrespect that teacher. You would learn that it is preferable to not ask questions. Best to try not to be noticed at all.

After being forced into school, I soon started to believe that I wasn't interested in anything. Children are supposed to have a natural curiosity about things. These days I am constantly researching and learning new exciting and fascinating things. Importantly - I am chosing the topics that interest me and digging only as deeply into those topics as I choose, and moving onto something else when I am ready to. I'm not following a sylabus or some learning plan that someone else thinks I should be following. I have the INTJ personality type. A characteristic of INTJs is that they never take advice from others, and have a need to do things their own way. They have a hate for authority and always question things - even if it is something that is well established and commonly believed by the masses - INTJs are more inclined to continue questioning whether it is right. They don't subscribe to the 'millions of people can't be wrong' philosphy. Millions of people CAN be wrong, and in my opinion the vast majority of the population are VERY wrong about a very many things.

I love watching documentaries and I've learned more from those than I ever did in any school environment. The key difference is in how the information is presented. This is where the current education system is failing the most. Just watch one of Brian Cox's or David Attenborough's award winning documentaries and then compare this to any class you ever attended in school. There is no comparison. When I look back at my school experience growing up - It makes me angry. Years were wasted and the whole experience had a very negative effect on me.

It was only recently that I discovered what a HSP or Highly Sensitive Person is. I watched this video and I associated greatly with everything I was hearing. Workplaces can also be a real issue for a HSP. I always had a very strong sense of dread every morning when I had to go to school or to work. It effects my well-being to this day and I have not found an escape from it. However I now work for a small company with just a few employees - so the problem is minimised.

There are some people that are highly creative. They often become successful engineers, designers, inventors, artists or entertainers - creating very original content. For these people, the traditional school system is just not suitable for them. It is in fact highly detrimental to their mental health. Following rigid guidelines that they don't necessarily agree with and being bombarded with information that they are expected to just accept as fact - this will drive them absolutely crazy. Our existing system simply does not cater for those people.

I do have a great respect for knowledge but at the same time a total disgust for the existing academic institutions. But I don't want to just leave it at that. It's not enough to just say 'I don't like that - it's bad'. You should only really make such a comment if you think there is a better alternative and you need to explain what that alternative is...

Seseme Street-style learning - Embedding useful information into fun songs (Or pop songs) and comedy. Adding visual association to certain facts (A well-known trick for memorising) really helps hugely.

A professionally edited and polished presentation with information explained in a way that is easy to digest and understand for the average person makes all the difference. Information that has been scrutinised by the most brilliant minds and kept up-to-date with the very latest findings. Concepts explained with the help of 3D computer animation, graphics and sound cues.

We should be getting movie actors, tv and pop stars that are admired and respected by young people to present the information. Who better to have as your teacher than Back To The Future's Doc Brown or Winston Wolf from Pulp Fiction.

We need to identify who are the introverts and extraverts and separate them. Throwing an introvert in with extroverts is never going to 'cure them' and visa versa. These types just don't and shouldn't mix. In fact, for learning - you want as little distraction as possible. That means - isolation. Lessons should be short and taken in single booths with headphones on. You go in, you get comfortable, relax, have a drink and then watch. You need to be able to pause and replay sections of the lesson and have a buzzer or button you can press to request a teacher. The teacher will connect to your booth in a zoom meeting and you can then ask them questions or request additional information. These meetings will be recorded, and for each interraction the teacher is graded on how well they answered the question appropriately and whether they stayed calm or got angry. Were they engaging, supportive and encouraging? The teachers that score badly on these interrations will be taken aside for re-training. If they are unable to reach an acceptable standard, then they are dismissed - because students futures and well-being are of critical importance. Parents will also have access to these interractions. This way, even if a teacher is failing to help, a parent can step in after school and make sure that their child has grasped the lesson they were struggling with. Far too many people have been let down by the current teaching system.

I spent a little time in the Army Cadets and experienced something that works very well - Drilling. I'm not talking about DIY projects here! In the army - they just repeat the same information to you over and over until your brain has soaked it up. Things become second-nature. You don't have to think hard to remember things - the skill or knowledge is recalled like a muscle-memory due to this re-enforcement training. There are a few lucky people with photographic memory, who you just have to tell them something once and they are able to retain it - but for most of us - that is not the case. If the lesson is well presented and fun - It won't be a hardship for you to undertake this drilling. It will be like rewatching a favourite movie or listening to an album - Education should be a pleasurable experience and never a torture.

Your recaps of previously taught information (Or drilling) can happen during exercise or travel. Maybe you are on a walk or run, or sitting on a bus or train, or driving to work. Instead of just listening to jibberish and pointless song lyrics, you could be continuing to learn. TV shows and movies could also sneak in some educational items. It could be something very subtle like a man is walking along, and there is some information in the background - some grafitti on the building that they walk past or a poster. Advertisers pay tv show creators and movie producers for product placement, so why not devote a little tax money to doing the same with educational messages? Subtle and subliminal training. They could even sneak education into porn! Why not? It's time to move away from the antiquated failing methods of teaching and try new things - push the boundaries.