Questions and Education

Questions. And questions. We all have questions when we face the unknown.

Asking questions is the most basic rationality function a human has—if you have rationality, you ask.

I think there’s a huge mistake in education these days. Something that distorts the essence of education, that skews the understanding of knowledge.

There are, two types of education. One is lecturing, the other is transiting concepts. There are some crucial differences between these two types of education.

Most of the public education systems are using the “lecturing” model, where the educators would list out all the points a lecture needs, and henceforth what the later test would test. In a class like this, you are simply importing points. When you hear the points, or however you convey the messages to points, you would memorize these points for the later preparation of tests. This is all a very systematical and repetitive process that many students have as a learning mindset. Test, lessons, test. Rinse and repeat. The problem in this type is that students and teachers are not regarding knowledge as knowledge anymore. They think that these knowledge are just points that would later be used in a test, they are completely objectified. And later, students will forget most of what they learned in classes. And another big thing in this model is that how do you ask questions? You may be saying “Just ask teachers.” But that’s not completely true. Teachers might only know the knowledge within the certain subject, or they are just constrained to these points they lecture every day.

You have questions, by all means, you definitely have questions, when you face something the first time. You would wonder: What is it? How is it? Where is it? And when is it? And sometimes, why is it?

These are just some fundamental questions you would ask on basically every new thing you encounter in your life. Questioning is a natural human instinct. We question to know the subject, to understand it, to know whether it’s harmful or not, useful or not.

However, the modern mode of education kills off the most basic rationality of ours. Students are afraid to ask questions, because sometimes the question may not be within the parameters of the course, maybe it’s “stupid”, maybe it’s out of context, out of nowhere.

For me, there is no invalid question. Only people who can’t answer. Even the question is the stupidest question you ever come across, it has an answer. And, the answer is never supposed to be true. Or false. It’s just an answer. A question has an answer, it doesn’t matter.

But apparently, this “lecturing” model refuses to answer questions students bring up.

So how about this, let’s change the direction a little bit. Let’s talk about the “transiting concepts” type of education.

This type of education can found mostly, on social events, such as speeches, educational videos, people telling you stories, or sometimes you go on to some knowledgeable person’s house and ask him questions.

The problem with this type is that it’s never accurate, it’s never “official”, but it’s enjoyable during the process.

TED is a good example of transiting concepts. It teaches you concepts, it does not force you to remember any points but you would gladly accept those reasonable points. And meantime, you have the right to question. Every speaker on TED can be questioned, even they have authority, still you can question. Because the education in the process has been lowered down to a more plain and open level. There’s no actual authority in it anymore, you don’t belong to any professor, any teacher any authority anymore.

Transiting concepts is a good thing, that’s probably the most basic way of transiting knowledge as human as possible. Think about the ancient Greek, how people learned? How did the teachers back in time teach people? Do they give you some tests? Some points you need to remember? So that you can get a degree? Was that how teachers, educators in ancient Greek taught people?

People have opinions. They always do. You can’t just kill off that motivation of propositioning, and questioning. Education should be more open, more accepting towards ideas and tolerant towards students coming from all stratum. It should originally look like a forum, a forum of speakers speaking out ideas, but it’s more of educating in the sense. Let the students talk and imagine, but convey your knowledge, the knowledge you inherited from the previous educators, to these newborn youngsters. Teach them how to think, teach them think big and bravely.

Because I think the true meaning behind these valuable precious knowledge is that we can utilize them well and help make a better world than today’s. Knowledge is always useful, I just don’t get why today’s education/schooling has degraded it to mere objects.

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