Reframing How We View Education

Reframing How We View Education February 23, 2013

I’ve posted in the past about how we in America value education (or don’t, as the case more often is). I’m still concerned about this issue – not least because, having obtained a Ph.D., I’m likely going to spend at least some of my life working in the field of education. I also think of the recent image making its way around Facebook, with an American taxpayer explaining that he doesn’t mind his tax money going to education because he doesn’t want to live in a nation of idiots. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: as a supposedly democratic society, we are shooting ourselves in the collective feet if we don’t have a well-educated populace with critical thinking skills and a knowledge of history and the humanities as well as technical, informational skill sets like those offered by STEM.

Recently, a fellow blogger reached out to me about a graphic she helped create, which illustrates how the education system in Finland frames its approach differently:

Please Include Attribution to With This Graphic Finnish Education Infographic

Since I’m into data visualization and other strategies brought to the forefront by the digital humanities movement, I thought I’d share this graphic with my readers. It dramatically illustrates what we’re doing differently in the U.S., and suggests that some of our specific behaviors (devaluing teachers and “play” time, overemphasizing standardized testing) are not working and need to be addressed.

For a striking contrast, check out this public radio discussion of higher education in California (thanks to my dad, who sent me the link). The experiences and needs of the students and teachers took a backseat to discussions of tuition and technology – which are certainly important, but I fear that continuing to commodify education will have negative effects for both teachers and students.

At this point, as a recent Ph.D. still finding my way in the world, I feel a bit powerless to make sure that positive changes are happening in our education system. At the very least, though I can blog about these issues and hope to inspire the sorts of discussions and reevaluations that might eventually lead to change.


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