Friday, September 14, 2012

Why the Traditional Education Paradigm is Outdated

After reading "The Wrong Bet: Why Common Curriculum and Standards Won't Help" chapter 1 of his book World Class Learners, Zhao,Y. “The Wrong Bet: Why Common Curriculum & Standards Won’t Help", World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Learners.Pp. 23 – 45 I have gone from agreeing to disagreeing to agreeing once again with his idea of how the traditional educational paradigm is outdated. In particular Zhao mentions the idea of how adopting common curriculum and standards, not only nation wide but aiming to adopt a worldwide common curriculum will not help todays and for that matter tomorrows students be better prepared for the economic or social world they will face once they graduate.

At first I wanted to believe in that having an equal opportunity for all would bridge the gap between "developed" and "developing" countries, or even close the opportunity/economical gap within one country; that offering a standardized educational model would give everyone the same educational experience whether you studied in Mexico or in the United States, in a big city or a rural community. Of course in theory this sounds great, more like a utopia.  There are so many other factors influencing education and todays fast paced, evolving and changing world we live in, that even the thought of keeping the traditional educational paradigm seems not only outdated but absurd.

To begin with, I totally agree with the idea that this model was developed at a time where the world was moving at a slower pace, changes didn’t occur as rapidly.  Everything was thought of locally.  We have now moved from local to global and physical distances are no longer a barrier but rather a new opportunity.  Also of great importance is the point Sir Ken Robinson addresses in his video “Changing Education Paradigms”, of HOW we need to educate today’s students for the economies of tomorrow if we do not know what it will look like by the end of this week  Sir Ken Robinson’s video touches on many of the outdated aspects of the traditional education paradigm as well which support the idea that it is an outdated model.
Another aspect and one that we as educators should address in our classrooms is that the traditional educational paradigm is based on standardized test results.  Therefore is education aimed at preparing students for taking these tests?  And will better results have a direct impact on how prepared you will be once you graduate?  Sadly no, it is not that simple.  Of course students should have their basic skills and subjects up to par, but not while sacrificing the more “disposable” subjects or social skills.  Education is not about everybody being good at math and language skills exclusively, but also about embracing the arts, and acquiring different skills that will better enable the students to cope with change, to adapt and embrace this “unknown” future.    
It is by working and studying in international institutions that I have had the blessing of being surrounded by non-traditional educational models per se.  And yes, these opportunities have enabled me to be creative, innovative and global.  I truly believe in promoting this with my students.  This will only be achievable by fostering in them core values as well as critical, creative and analytical thinking and technology skills that will enable them to be competent global citizens themselves.


  1. 'Therefore is education aimed at preparing students for taking these tests?'
    We have tests in High school, entrance to College, Masters degrees, and Job Interviews. Teaching for a test is teaching, and the lesson is in every stage of life. I believe this maybe the best and most effective teaching.

  2. I also got mixed feelings through the reading, because of my optimism growing as a balloon and then coming loose from my hand and flying up in the sky; as you correctly pointed, how to bridge the gap (educationally) between developed and developing countries/ social structure, when the economy hardens these differences, enhancing the gap over the years. We can't dream of a global curriculum when there's no possible chance of global equality. As Sir Ken Robinson points, education is based on two columns: Economy and Intellect, and the second is based on mental structures based on the differences of classes among society. On the other side, as you also highlight, we don't know how the world will be the future, but in my view, the educational institutions are not being creative enough, even though it claims it is aware of the importance of creativity, and that the drastically evolving paradigms (on socializing, communication, and view of ourselves and the world) in the world are being made by incredible free and creative minds. I completely agree with you that it is by working at an international institution that a teacher can go beyond the borders and think of a possibility of change, which is a "bliss" as you say, when you are in a country as Mexico with a social structure heavily anchored to social gaps, locally and globally.

  3. I was also blessed by studying in private international schools and therefore had the opportunity to prepare myself on what I really truly loved...teaching!!! I understand how we want our children to be prepared for a competitive world but we should never forget that each and one of the children in our classrooms is unique, and has different needs and different abilities. I also agree that traditional education is not what we need in this ever changing world, and I don't believe that at this moment we could handle common curriculums, not because children don't need basic standard education but because of the different needs children have around the world.