'The Objective of Education Is Learning'
*'The Objective of Education Is Learning, Not Teaching'*
*In their book,** *Turning Learning Right Side Up: Putting Education Back on Track*, authors Russell L. Ackoff and Daniel Greenberg point out that today's education system is seriously flawed -- it focuses on teaching rather than learning. "Why should children -- or adults -- be asked to do something computers and related equipment can do much better than they can?" the authors ask in the following excerpt from the book. "Why doesn't education focus on what humans can do better than the machines and instruments they create?"*
"Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth learning can be taught." -- Oscar Wilde
Traditional education focuses on teaching, not learning. It incorrectly assumes that for every ounce of teaching there is an ounce of learning by those who are taught. However, most of what we learn before, during, and after attending schools is learned without its being taught to us. A child learns such fundamental things as how to walk, talk, eat, dress, and so on without being taught these things. Adults learn most of what they use at work or at leisure while at work or leisure. Most of what is taught in classroom settings is forgotten, and much or what is remembered is irrelevant.
In most schools, memorization is mistaken for learning. Most of what is remembered is remembered only for a short time, but then is quickly forgotten. (How many remember how to take a square root or ever have a need to?) Furthermore, even young children are aware of the fact that most of what is expected of them in school can better be done by computers, recording machines, cameras, and so on. They are treated as poor surrogates > for such machines and instruments. Why should children -- or adults, for that matter -- be asked to do something computers and related equipment can do much better than they can? Why doesn't education focus on what humans can do better than the machines and instruments they create?
When those who have taught others are asked who in the classes learned most, virtually all of them say, "The teacher." It is apparent to those who have taught that teaching is a better way to learn than being taught. Teaching enables the teacher to discover what one thinks about the subject being taught. Schools are upside down: Students should be teaching and faculty learning.
After lecturing to undergraduates at a major university, I was accosted by a student who had attended the lecture. After some complimentary remarks, he asked, "How long ago did you teach your first class?"
I responded, "In September of 1941."
"Wow!" The student said. "You mean to say you have been teaching for more than 60 years?"
"When did you last teach a course in a subject that existed when you were a student?"
This difficult question required some thought. After a pause, I said, "September of 1951."
"Wow! You mean to say that everything you have taught in more than 50 years was not taught *to* you; you had to learn on your own?"
"You must be a pretty good learner."
I modestly agreed.
The student then said, "What a shame you're not that good a teacher."
The student had it right; what most faculty members are good at, if anything, is learning rather than teaching. Recall that in the one-room > schoolhouse, students taught students. The teacher served as a guide and a resource but not as one who force-fed content into students' minds.
*Ways of Learning*
There are many different ways of learning; teaching is only one of them. We learn a great deal on our own, in independent study or play. We learn a great deal interacting with others informally -- sharing what we are learning with others and vice versa. We learn a great deal by doing, through trial and error. Long before there were schools as we know them, there was...
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