Schooling: Is it “madness”?

transcript taken from Prof Dr Ger Graus OBE’s talkdetails below


Einstein’s definition of insanity, which is something like, you continue to do the same thing but expect different outcomes, for me, reflects the story of education over the last two hundred, or perhaps a hundred years. Why (and actually we need again to distinguish between schooling and education) did we start to school people, little people? We started to school people, because the economy that was growing as part of the Industrial Revolution needed certain skill sets. It needed workers, rather than having little cottage industries. It needed lots of people in one place to produce and it needed those people to have certain skills.

So we built little buildings, we called them schools, and we put people in there, and we taught them what they needed to know to do those jobs. And it worked! I mean you might argue there was still poverty and all those things, but in terms of the schooling process leading to economic success, it worked. Today, we use the same model. See, children used to get six weeks of summer holiday. Why did they need six weeks of holiday? Because they needed to help their parents in their gardens and on their farms with a harvest. It was important, the family had to work together to secure much of the food for the next ten months or so, certainly for the winter: All hands on deck.

Move forward two hundred years and we still have schools, and the children still sit in those rooms (they are probably fewer in the classroom now than they were then). They are still facing the front, because they are being told things, so they have to listen, they still work like office hours, they start at nine in the morning and finish at four in the afternoon, they still have six weeks in the summer.

We still test not what they learned, we test the knowledge they have acquired, we test what they remember. So actually, you just hang on to that picture, and then think of the world, how it’s changed.


The text you have read is taken from The Heart of Science Talks, a series of opinion pieces in video format, with renowned educators, scientists, specialists, and everyone who carries within themselves the heart of science. Topics range from education to robotics, life skills and conscientious thinking. On our Youtube channel, you can watch a new installation every Saturday. These are bite-sized videos & essays, great to accompany your morning coffee. In the next 8 weeks, Prof Dr Ger Graus OBE will take us on a journey through schooling, education, learning, aspiration, and inspiration!

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