Students these days are showing great dissatisfaction over their school lives, and I am not talking about the classical teenage rebellion of skipping classes or flunking. Why? Because classes are always the same: repetitive, restraining and often focused on useless subjects for the future.
Schools force students to sit still and pay attention to their teachers’ words for more than one or two hours at a time, when shorter classes with more break time in between have already proved to be more effective. They teach students the same set of allegedly unchangeable ideas and concepts, the same already rationalized arguments, without giving them room for discussion or encouraging independent thinking. They make students store data in their heads like encyclopedias, with many concepts being completely useless for the students’ professional or personal future.
As a consequence, the current educational system seems to be failing. It is failing to raise better citizens, it is failing to raise inspired, future professionals. And this has an impact on society itself. There are many ways to change the system and lead it to causing a much greater good.
1 – Teaching ecology. Teaching students how to grow vegetable gardens, how to plant trees and how to use organic waste to create natural fertilizers is an option that is yet greatly untapped. We live in a world where natural resources are quickly disappearing, pollution is widely spread, and more and more diseases are being linked to bad eating habits. Learning to cultivate “oxygen factories” and to grow your own, biological food (GMO’s free) is perhaps a better idea than most people would imagine.
Plus, learning about gardens can help improve students’ skills in other areas such as Maths, Science, History and Health! See how in this article by National Geographic: http://theplate.nationalgeographic.com/2014/11/28/teaching-kids-grow-vegetables-school/.
2 – Meditating. By definition, meditation is a practice in which the individual trains the mind to be free of all outer influences, including what is bad and hurtful. Practised in different religions, it is maybe most alluring in the Eastern religions circle, namely in Buddhism.
Meditation has been seen to produce fascinating and apparently unexplainable effects on people. This example of what happened in a San Francisco school when meditation practices were introduced to its troublesome students can speak for itself: http://www.collective-evolution.com/2015/01/05/something-remarkable-happened-after-these-troubled-grade-school-students-were-taught-meditation/.
Perhaps teaching students in several schools basic meditation techniques, and allow them to explore and train their own minds, could lead them to a greater awareness of the world around them. What kind of adults would we see in our world tomorrow if we taught them to be peaceful, empathetic children today?
3 – Organizing school debates. Many young people today seem to lack the interest in politics, economics, social and environmental affairs. The educational system has the duty to teach students the basic notions of these extensive, relative subjects, so that they can confront them with their own knowledge in the future. Creating school debates would not only encourage interaction between staff and students of the same school, but it would also inform them, develop their knowledge, their independent thinking and their argumentative skills.
4 – Engaging students in societal causes. A cooperation between schools and local, civic organizations would be of incredible value to students, the organizations and communities themselves. Sharing work and commitment towards common goals would raise the students to be better citizens, and it could help local organizations reach wider results.
5 – Having special arts classes. Arts have always inspired and brought people together. To create an artistic environment in a school would certainly have amazing results. Allowing students to choose between drama, painting, dance, music, creative writing, photography or any other form of art while studying for their regular, academic subjects would have many positive effects. One of its greatest impacts would be to give students an opportunity to learn something with more freedom of movement, more relaxation and more creativity. Having a special time to be relaxed and carefree would also help students maintain their focus during regular classes.