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The four freedoms of education

Education in the 21st century requires a much more complex answer than adding this or that "element". Education does not need another reform. He needs a revolution. Getting out of our comfort zone, within which we try in vain to balance collapsing building blocks, and allow a deep, sometimes painful change in the perception of the essence of education itself

Education. Illustration: PIXABAY.COM
Education. Illustration: PIXABAY.COM

Dr. Liat Ben David

The frustration with education systems, which is not limited to the State of Israel and not even to the last few decades, has led to the creation of countless educational reforms, which have one goal: to make education more efficient and "correct". Some were engaged in changing the educational environment. Others delved into changing pedagogical concepts, introducing this or that technology, and some developed ideas for deepening "that single special factor" in each child - creativity, entrepreneurship, enthusiasm, the list of "special" is as long as the number of bidders. But despite all these reforms and ideas, we are still frustrated with our education systems, perhaps because after everything we learned and developed during the last century, education in the 21st century requires a much more complex answer than adding this or that "element". Education does not need another reform. He needs a revolution. Getting out of our comfort zone, within which we try in vain to balance collapsing building blocks, and to enable a deep, sometimes painful, change in the perception of the essence of education itself.

Defining the four freedoms of education

On January 6, 1941, P.D. Roosevelt, the president of the USA at the time, gave the speech known as the "Four Freedoms". In his words, Roosevelt defined four basic freedoms that every person, anywhere in the world, is entitled to enjoy. Basic human rights for all, regardless of nationality or geography, if we want to develop a pluralistic, democratic and sustainable society. Based on this idea, we must first and foremost define what are the basic rights to which every person is entitled in the educational context, students and teachers alike, if our goal is to promote people who have a tolerant, liberal and intellectual attitude: the four freedoms of education.

Freedom from the need to "finish the material" - this need is probably the greatest enemy of education. In the information age, where a knowledge-based curriculum becomes out of date every day, the demand to "cover the material" is nothing less than ridiculous. Moreover: we live in an age where you can learn what you want, when you want, where you want. Instead of "covering topics", we should focus on the wealth of skills that the knowledge available to us allows us to develop, as I will expand on later.
Freedom from standardization - we are slaves to the metrics we invented, running from test to test and measuring performance at the classroom, state and international levels alike. But assessment should deal with the creation and design of learning processes, and not with measurement and comparison between students. Over-measurement paralyzes creativity, destroys individuality, and stifles the natural inclination to explore and wonder—all qualities we claim to seek to develop. Over-measurement encourages another enemy of education, leading us straight to the third freedom:

The freedom to fail - where there is no skepticism, curiosity and the courage to try, there are no failures - and also no great successes. We do not allow our children to fail, but failure is an essential experience of the reality of life. With the right direction, failure is a stepping stone of growth, an excellent tool for developing the imagination, thinking and skills required in order for us to try again and again until we solve the problem in front of us. Failure is also an effective psychological tool in developing the value of modesty, a value required to understand our rightful place in the environment and to develop respect and sustainable behavior.

The freedom to use imagination - man is the storyteller, the inventor of symbols and the most sophisticated producer of products in the living world. From the day we were born, we love to listen to a good story, both fictional and documentary. This is the realm of imagination and visualization, lyrical and emotional making, both wonder and exploration. It allows us to clarify values, build and understand personal and social identities. A good story ignites our imagination, arouses our curiosity and sends us on a journey of discovery that requires multidisciplinary learning of knowledge and skills. However, we hardly use this power in our formal education systems. The inseparable connection between our imagination and the ability to realize it in reality is the basis for the development of humanity. If the education system is a tool for human development, we must invite imagination and ways of applying it into the classroom.

Development of educational methodologies

The four freedoms will be expressed through the development of three central groups of skills, each of which consists of different principles and methods of operation, and their joint application creates a very different education system than the one we know today.
Skills of active knowledge - effective and responsible use of the extreme amount, available to everyone, of accumulated knowledge, in flexible ways and in changing, unexpected situations.

The story skills - every topic we can think of is the result of a story that includes a human adventure - how the topic developed, who were the people involved in it, why they were interested in it, how they researched and built it, what are its knowledge, products and insights and how it affects us . From fantasy to reality, being able to know a story is the best learning there is.

Social skills - we are social beings who think and act based on the values, norms and beliefs of the culture into which we were born. These allow us to define the boundaries necessary to build a sustainable society. The educational process is intended, among other things, to build an identity based on these social structures. At the same time, it must be remembered that this construction could very easily be based on indoctrination, which creates a rigid homogeneous process that does not allow the casting of doubt and critical thinking necessary for the development of creativity and innovation. The ability to create balanced socialization processes is an art that every educational system strives for its participants - teachers and students alike - to be free-thinking and tolerant people, and that cannot be ignored.

ask the basic questions

Finally, we must go back and ask ourselves the fundamental questions, which I have already written about in the past: What are the contents that should and should be taught, should these contents be constant and the same for everyone? Who are our students and who are the teachers we want to teach them? Where and when does meaningful learning take place - is it true that a framework where members of the same age, in the same framework of an hour and a half, in the same classroom space, is the most effective framework for learning, and if not - what is? And the most challenging question of all - why do we teach what we teach? Is it because of historical reasons - because that's how we've always done it - or because of pressure from interested parties? Try to answer these questions with brave honesty. The answers may surprise you.

After over two hundred years of frustration and complaints about education systems, it is time to get rid of the concept that sees education as a process that presents the world as an interactive encyclopedia at best, and start to perceive education as it should be: the most fascinating human adventure that exists.

2 תגובות

  1. An interesting article, which follows the path of many good articles, and falls at the same point they fall. The most important line in the article is the question "Why do we teach what we teach?". It is part of a group of similar questions: "Why do we teach?" – what are you? Who? how?
    The ideal of the education system in Israel is, in the end, to produce graduates who can be accepted and study popular professions in the academy. This is the ideal of the main stakeholders - the Ministry of Education and the parents. There are other ideals of course, but in every conflict with the first ideal they are rejected.
    As long as today's universities offer candidates for in-demand subjects based on matriculation grades, students and parents will strive for high grades, and the Ministry of Education will require teachers to succeed in teaching students who answer high grades in well-defined tests. He will direct the teachers through a system of supervision, guidance and propaganda to achieve first of all high grades.
    As long as this ideal remains, there is nothing to expect that the system will change and that the teachers will change. The system has a mission, and it fulfills its dictated mission. Teachers will always try to integrate additional elements into the teaching and education process, but they will not be able to act consistently and continuously against the demands of the Ministry of Education and parents.
    Those who want to change the education system should direct their efforts in influencing these.
    Suggesting teachers change is like suggesting bank employees change commission rates. There is therapy in it, there is no hope in it.

  2. Most academics do not even touch everything they have learned.
    In many workplaces there is a situation of PhD holders who are worth nothing and lack academic education who surpass them, the majority learn what they need to learn in the workplace itself and there is not much left of what they learned in university or high school.
    Maybe we should investigate with older people after many years of work and experience what are the things that a person really remembers from his studies, do some sort of scholarly analysis of what a person really needs to know, and teach only these things.

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