I used my past introductions to tell you a bit about myself and my achievements. Now it is time to go all out. I graduated in the top 5 from my BSc. I was the first student from the whole university to get a paid internship on year 1 out of 4. I was the first student from my department to start research projects on year 2. I finished my thesis on year 3. I was the first student from my cohort to have a part-time job teaching on year 2, full time teaching on year 3. I was the first student in the whole university to be accepted on a MSc abroad. I got 5 “best teacher” awards and found a high school. During my MSc in Canada, I got 2 scholarships, over 10 awards and was constantly asked to slow down by my supervisor and professors. Not to mention my work achievements (I became Head of Operations with Coded Minds 6 months after being hired). I might’ve been doing something right. There are a lot of factors to it, of course. But I want to focus in 2 main points to explain what is a good education to me:
Education is multifactorial
Do an online search right now on “skills of successful people”. Whatever list you check, you will see a handful of skills. How many of these are taught in schools? Do you see any school subject in those lists? Nope, you don’t, and this is my point. Whatever we learn at school is important, but it does not make you successful. All the other skills needed for success are self taught. Success is not about mastering Literature, getting A+ on exams or writing a 50 pages assignments. Success is multifactorial and require a broad skill set. If I can broadly classify, these are the 3 skills sets that helped me through my education and life:
Knowledge: Everything you have learned through studies, like an expertise. For example, my expertise is teaching and biology. I learned them through education and work experiences.
Social skills: Your abilities to modulate your emotions, often referred as emotional intelligence. For instance, when interacting with random people, I am often complimented on being trustworthy, a social skill that I have been developing over the years with a lot of effort.
Environment understanding: How to handle people around you, the norm, culture or context. This also means how fast you can adapt to change (different environments, different norms). From my experience, moving to another country poses a huge environmental change, and if I didn’t adapt, I would be clustered with my country-folk and not blending into my new environment.
You can keep digging deeper and deeper and finding more skills inside each broad category. Which brings me to my final question on this part of the article: Are we educating our students to succeed or to get A+? Food for thought… the job market does not want A+ students. They want multifactorial people, with multifactorial skills. Shouldn’t education be multifactorial then?
The best of both worlds and how to get there
My previous 2 articles focused on introducing my educational experience in Brazil and Canada. Both countries have different systems, different demographics and cultures. On their own way, they work on one extreme of the educational spectrum that the other does not. Is it possible to achieve a balance between both countries? The answer is yes and the balance is achieved in a few private schools (schools of the future as they like to call themselves) that I visited in Canada and Brazil.
These visionary institutions understand the value of the multifactorial education. They need to follow the curriculum, of course, but they offer courses, lessons, lectures that brings several of the previously mentioned skills to the mix. They are bold enough to challenge the norm, to prepare students for the future, and they charge for it, as they should, since their services are very specialized and expensive.
Can public schools, achieve the same result? Of course. But that requires a lot of changes on the system structure, and we all know how slow that can be. My treasure map for this big change, being very simplistic and even naïve is:
Curriculum review: Our curriculums are pretty old and they don’t really change much. Subjects are added but rarely removed. What is the value to learn about buoyancy or diseases that are not even relevant anymore?
Adapting to the current needs: What does the market wants? Schools should ask that and adapt to it. Trendy topics nowadays are coding, robotics, gamification, internet of things, and similar. Shouldn’t school be teaching these so our students are better equipped with a basic knowledge on these topics?
Blending social skill development: I bet you already interacted with that very smart person that was completely anti social and hard to deal with. I understand that not everyone will be a public speaker after school, but being social proficient would be great! There are tons of coaches & lecturers out there teaching these things. Why not do that at school?
The take home message
Einstein once said that “insanity was doing the same thing over and over again, expecting to achieve different results”. Teaching students things that are not helping them in their future falls on this.
To please my biologist side, Darwin once said that “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one most adaptable to change”. Personally, I want to equip my students with the right tools so they can survive as much as possible with all changes they will face on their lives.
What about you? What things do you think we could do, in any level, to promote better education?