School: the place where we learn reading and writing and arithmetic. Sometimes we need to memorize things. Sometimes we need to do things in a specific way. But we always need to learn how to use all the facts that we’ve accumulated in our head. That’s the point of school, to learn the basics and then expand our knowledge base.
Recently, my daughter gave her an opinion on a subject. She was told “I don’t like what they’re teaching you at that school.” I shared an anecdote about something my daughter said and the person responded ‘Wow- I can’t believe Mr. C taught them that in class.” And in both cases I responded- “That’s not what she was taught. Her statement is how she interprets the facts presented before her.”
See, here’s the thing: everything is up for interpretation.
I think somewhere along the line we’ve forgotten what the purpose of school is. Learning has been diluted down to how well someone does on a standardized test. If you fill in the box correctly, if you’ve successfully figured out the rubric, you’ve learned. You know things if you get a certain score.
And we’ve forgotten that learning isn’t about regurgitating information. We’ve forgotten that learning is about forming an opinion, taking something to the next level, trying to figure out how to break new ground. Figuring out that there are options and possibilities beyond what’s on the page.
We’ve forgotten that learning is not confined to the classroom. Learning happens all around us, all the time. Every time you read a blog, you’ve learned something. Every time you watch something on TV or the internet, talk to someone, walk down the street or drive in your car, you’ve learned something. And you take all those experiences, add them to the facts that are floating around in your head, and you form an opinion, or a hypothesis. Then you make a statement to someone, engage in a discussion. And hopefully the person will think about what you’ve said, and come up with an intelligent response. (FYI- an intelligent response is not- I don’t like what they’re teaching you in school)
So, here’s your lesson for the day: Don’t repeat facts that you’ve heard. Form your own opinion. Think about all the evidence and interpret it any way you see fit. There isn’t a right opinion or a wrong one: it’s all about how you interpret the flow of information set before you. And remember: the most important thing we learn in school is how to think.