How Institutionalized Education is Losing Ground to Newer and More Effective Forms of Learning PDF Print E-mail
Univetica Staff

The progressive education movement, based on the belief that students learn best when engaged in hands-on activities, has been present since the early 20th century. It has named an "alternative" mode of education, suitable for those whose views differ from the mainstream.

Over recent years, however, these alternative educational approaches once thought of as too progressive to be realistic, have been the subject of growing interest in new and more effective models of education.

Due to the prevalence of standardized testing as a primary metric for measuring learning, as well as widespread funding constraints impacting public education systems, an increasing number of parents and students are growing frustrated with institutionalized education. Many have become uncomfortable with the idea of sending their unique and vibrant children to those standard and all too often dull institutions that force youth to bottle up their creativity and conform to arbitrary authoritative external standards.


Criticisms of institutionalized education

Institutionalized education is based upon the idea that there are uniform standards that all students should meet, and that each individual's failure or success depends upon his or her ability to be molded to this system. Undoubtedly there are some children who can naturally thrive in this scenario, but this model is a throwback to an era when multiculturalism appeared limited and globalization was less of a factor. Today, we need models of education that prepare children to thrive and innovate in an increasingly diverse and competitive world.

In addition to its old-fashioned, one-size-fits-all approach, institutional education has many shortcomings that inhibit learning and do a disservice to students. For example:

  • Traditional education relies primarily on the rote memorization of facts. When these facts are not put to use in experiential applications, little is retained in the long run.
  • Children who are unable to thrive in an institutionalized education system are met with disincentives or punishment rather than personalized encouragement.
  • Students who perform poorly are often placed on low-expectation tracks that are difficult to escape.
  • Institutionalized education teaches children that there is an external authority that decides what is right and wrong. Children aren't encouraged to independently think about the world and make their own determinations.
  • Institutionalized education forces children to repress personal interests that aren't part of the standard curricula.


The rise of more effective forms of learning

Despite growing awareness of the limitations of traditional education, truly progressive educational institutions are still a gross minority, but recognition of traditional education's shortcomings has caused many schools to rethink at least parts of their approach to teaching. Across the world, private institutions have begun to call themselves “progressive,” and many public institutions are working progressive methods of teaching into their curricula where possible.

While it's a positive indication that some public and private schools are practicing progressive education, these developments are still typically limited to well-funded schools that often charge high tuition or are located in wealthy areas. As long as other schools don't have the funding or the institutional support to try alternative approaches, this disparity is likely to remain. In short, the wealthy students will benefit from innovative approaches, while students from poorer areas will continue to suffer from the failures of institutionalized education. One way to reverse this trend system wide is to remove misguided policies that tie teachers' hands and that provide school funding based on standardized test scores to ensure that schools everywhere have sufficient funds to provide the flexibility and personalized attention that progressive education requires.


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