Fri 8 Jan, 2010 09:17 am
This is my first post but it's an interesting thought (to me at least).
So I'm in the middle of revising for various exams (AS level re-takes actually, as I find the art of revision so hard to commit to), and what I find peculiar is the way in which the moment an exam is set for a subject that I find interesting, the pressure of the exam immediately seems to make me lose interest in the subject.
I'm still only young (17), but I am interested in and throughout my life would like to learn about all sorts of different subject areas (Philosophy, Sociology, Geography, Literature, Theology, Physics etc.), yet I find that if I have learnt something through autodidactism (self-teaching) I find it so much more fulfilling and interesting. I'm not sure what it is about the education/exam system that puts me off of subject areas, it seems that the pressure of having to learn about something makes me put in less effort than if I were to learn about something that I myself want to learn about, or that I have an interest in learning about. I'm not sure if I'm peculiar in feeling this way or if it is a common idea (I'm sure it's been expressed a thousand times before), but my basic argument is 'would we all be better off if the education/exam system did not exist, and we instead learned through our own determination or interest in a particular subject?'
I would suggest that the opposite view has merit as well:---first because life always has pressures, schedules, and timetables and education should prepare you for life, a major aspect of which is self-discipline; second, because even a sound mind left alone to follow pathways of its own predilection can often result in very peculiar and narrow perspectives; third because a civilised life seems to presuppose an acquaintance with many different areas of knowledge and a grounding in its significant episodes and themes.
A mind without a civilised background is not only isolated, but unprotected.
I tend to find the same sentiments true about the education system and autodidactism, yet also see the necessity of having an examination style method of teaching. Our world is run off of standards, and these standards have to some how be measured. If you visited a tax specialist and he told you that his qualifications measured up to 3 years of reading books from the library and 5 years of reading articles on Google, more than likely you will find another specialist. The examination system is put in place so people can be assured of the qualifications of the people that run their lives. Would you vote in a presidential candidate if that candidate was a farmer whose hobby it was to read CNN and Fox every 2 hours and debate on forums what he thought about the world? Most likely not. So while I don't think we should discourage autodidactism, we by no means should embrace it to the point where it becomes the standard of education.
How would one determine whether you really had mastered the subject area say for employment or higher educational purposes except through examination?
I think the idea of self motivation and self learning is fine but there still needs to be some method of assesment or accountablity?
The quote "I will never let my schooling interfere with my education" by Mark Twain may be an example of this feeling. After all, it is difficult to condense even the basics of something like philosophy into one or two small semesters, and this pressure makes it impossible to extract some joy from learning. As a slow learner myself I can attest to that. It seems redundant to express dislike in having to learn this way but to someone who finds the subject interesting and not just a necessity it would make sense to say that.
I prefer autodidactism - but can see why it would never be accepted in a capitalist type, Western society for anything to do with money (paying or hiring any smart guy, like me, with no educational credentials is a rare move for any job requiring "skills" - despite non-work experience).