The Education Experience

An article over at Chelpixie explains that modern education should be learning a thing or two from marketing. Education isn't a product that we can package and sell. To be effective, it needs to be an experience. I absolutely agree with her on that, but I have to ask:

Is it even possible to provide this kind of learning "experience" in a school system designed for the industrial revolution? Can kids in a class full of people their same age and supposedly their same level of educational attainment really get a personalized experience at all?

In college the "personalized education" that I got was outside the classroom, not in it. The classroom hours, homework and exams gave me a skeleton to hang my learning on, but most of the learning happened in libraries, coffee shops, professors' office hours, and study group sessions.

Worse, still, I think that the school system has its priorities wrong. What kids need by the time they are 10 is a good foundation in reading, research and critical thinking in a setting that gives way to wherever their curiosity sends them. Educators need to be guides and guardians in the playground of information and experience, gently making sure that the overall experience is well rounded.

This isn't just a concept for elementary school like a Montessori paradise. It becomes even more critical in the teen years when young people are transitioning from childhood into greater independence, from simple dependence to true interdependence. Why give adolescents an educational offering that begs to be rebelled against when their natural need to individuate could better be focused on chasing knowledge and experience that builds them and their community up?

Excellent teen education allows them to learn through work, through entrepreneurial experiments, through political activism or community involvement, through broad and ambitious creative endeavors and guided independent research. Such a program allows the student to dig as deeply as they want into the subjects that fascinate them, while the educator helps to point the way to resources and the lessons gained by the experience of those who have gone before. It's rarely stuck in a classroom, and is often very busy doing things that don't look like "learning" until hindsight gives light to it all.