the lost art of teaching and how we can fix it

It really is a shame…

In spite of all the incredible advances we have made and the technology that is available to us, many students today seem less ready to deal with the challenges of life than ever before.

For years now I have wondered why, but recently I believe I have come to this conclusion – that schools and teachers simply aren’t keeping up.

Schools are dedicated to teaching information but were created at a time when information was scarce and at a high premium.

Then came along the Internet in the 90s and everything changed.

The Internet has revolutionized everything we do. From the way we communicate with others and how we gather information to how we shop and how we do business.

Sadly schools continue to exist in the 20th century paradigm. Today I believe it needs to be less about teaching students WHAT is important and more about WHY it is important.

Students go to school because they have been told they have to.

Why is irrelevant.

It is simply the way it is.

They don’t understand why they are going to school or why they are learning what they do.

Teaching is an art, and a lost art at that.

The sad fact is that many teachers just go through the motions; they do what is expected of them (to teach) but nothing more.

Years ago I made the choice to stop teaching, or at least in the form I was taught. I realized that the key wasn’t teaching students more information…that they can learn on their own. What my job is is showing students first how to apply what they learnt in the real world and second, and more importantly, WHY they are studying.

If I were to ask you what you studied in school you’d most likely list the usual suspects, “Math, science, history and English” plus a few others. You know, the standard set of subjects taught at school.

But if I were to ask you why you studied what you did it’s not quite as easy.

Because you had to? Because they’re important? Because they’re the fundamentals?

Our teachers taught us what I like to call the three Fs

  1. Facts
  2. Figures
  3. Formulas

All well and good but just why did we spend an hour a day, 5 days a week, 180 or so days a year for 12 years?

At first it makes sense. Simple arithmetic, reading, writing and speaking but as we move up through the ranks the why becomes so vague that few students truly understand just why they are studying other than being necessary to acquire a good job.

I’m of the belief that the system itself is to blame.

Most teachers are doing their best. It’s just their best isn’t good enough anymore.

The education system as a whole is unable to keep up with the rapid change in the world. To put it another way, it isn’t adapting.

Everything changes.

We change. Ideas change. Technology changes. The economy changes. Even our language changes.

So why are our schools teaching pretty much the same way they have for years?

I’ve always loved the expression, “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man how to fish, feed him for a lifetime.” Today I am of the belief that if you simply teach a man WHY they must learn how to fish the rest will take care of itself.

Today we focus on what and how when the real question is why.

My 4 year old son is constantly asking why as many other 4 year-olds do, I hope he continues to ask this for the rest of his life.

If he understands why he must learn a martial art, why speaking well is critical, why our health is the single greatest gift we have, and last but not least, why we must study then my wife and I will have done our job.

As my mentor Jim Rohn once said, “If you have a big enough ‘why‘ you can achieve any ‘how.'”

So what can we do about this? I admit it won’t be easy…but there is a solution. In fact, it already exists.

There are schools and teachers out there that have adapted. There are also great study programs, courses and seminars to help us improve in practically any area of our lives.

Everything we need is out there, but unless we accept that a change is needed nothing will happen.

“Admitting you have a problem” is the first step of twelve for those in the AA program.

The sooner we admit schools have a problem, the sooner we can get to work on fixing it.

Adrian Shepherd

Leave a Reply

Scroll to Top