Do students want to be educated?

We’ve taught our kids to be pragmatists. In true technocratic fashion, an education is no longer a way to expand or refine your thinking. Instead, education is simply a means to an end. Kids don’t want to be educated, they want to be credentialed.

This phenomenon is nothing new. As a high school and college student, I simply existed as education was done to me. I rarely engaged, often slept, and still got A’s. As a middle and high school teacher, my students actively resisted my efforts to make them think. They wanted (expected) me to simply hand out answers and gold stars when they could adequately regurgitate. Now, as a teacher of teachers, I see how future teachers struggle to implement divergent questioning. I suspect some of my students would love for me to simply prescribe teaching method X so they might rinse and repeat. Unfortunately, the K-12 schools and curriculum are happy to oblige.

I still believe that students at all levels want to be educated (as opposed to trained). After breaking down their resistance, I see legitimate joy in the frustration that is characteristic of real learning. I just wish I didn’t have to bang my head against the wall so long to get there. I hope that one day our society will change its expectations of education. Until then, please pass the aspirin.

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