Page created 10/15/09
Education: What Works, What Doesn’tWhen a student likes a subject and can understand it, he can then think with it, align it to other known information and use it to solve
When we consider methods of education, it is important to know what the word education means. It comes from a
Latin word that means to bring out; to draw forth – and probably derives from Socrates’ belief that knowledge was
innate in the individual and could be realized (or recalled) by simply asking the right questions.
An educated student should be able to ask the right questions to be successful. This takes more than rote learning;
it requires that students be able to think and reason. Thus it becomes the job of the teacher to help students learn
to think for themselves.
If, however, a teacher does not know the derivation of the word education, then education can get into trouble.
Many teachers think they must put facts IN the student’s head. They give their students lots of facts to study and
memorize. Students who have difficulty memorizing are under a lot of stress and many simply give up or start
Unfortunately, much of what passes for education today is nothing more than cramming facts and dates into a
student’s head. This method will most likely squelch the independent thinker, the artist, and the dreamer. And the
student who questions the system, or questions what is being taught, may be considered a troublemaker or a
delinquent when in fact, he is often the brightest and the one most capable of bringing better ideas to society.
If students are not supposed to just inflow information, what method should be used? Is it in the power of a teacher
to show students how to be competent in basic subjects?
The only way to raise ability in a subject is to raise a student’s willingness to confront that subject. We are all
familiar with the saying “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.” So how do we get the student’
s willingness to drink?
To do this, the student needs first to find a good reason for learning about the subject. Once the student has found
his own personal reason for studying it, he is usually willing to confront it and he studies it under his own self-
determinism. As he studies, he becomes more and more familiar with the subject. That familiarity breeds an
affinity for the subject and that affinity breeds confidence in his ability to understand it.
problems. At this point, he is competent in that subject. And this is the value of education – this ability to understand something, think with
it, create with it, and use it!
An entire grade school education, an entire high school education, an entire Harvard education means nothing if the student did not
participate in it under his or her own self-determinism. A student who cannot think with a subject he has been studying feels like a fraud.
For we do not live in an ivory tower, we must rub shoulders with the challenges of life.
The truth is that anyone of us has the capability to learn any subject or anything we wish to know. The only variables are a good enough
reason to learn it and a strong enough desire to know it.
With a totally self-determined willingness and a burning desire the most difficult subject can be mastered with ease. “Willingness and
desire” are the magic ingredients that have brought all advancements to mankind.
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