Is Education In Crisis?

Education used to provide a space where students could learn for the sake of learning. It exposed students to knowledge and developed critical thinking and freedom of thought. Education, today, is often treated as a commodity and driven by the demands of the market.

In recent years, a number a number of reasons have been suggested for such change. They include:

  • the changing nature of what students want from education
  • the motivation of students in education
  • the drive by policy makers and educational institutions to serve the market as their primary goal

The advent of the internet has helped to package education as a product to be sold to as many people as possible at the lowest cost.

The motivation of students has changed from wanting an education that enables learning and the accumulation of knowledge to wanting an education that provides measurable results to enable a career.

Government policy highlights the need for education to serve the needs of industry and rewards and punishes institutions and students based on performance in designated subject areas.

The priority of providing the high-level skills needed by industry overlooks the need to provide more professional and vocational courses and more community focussed teaching and learning for the benefit of society.

The difficulties within education are coming to a head as funding tightens, students feel under increased pressure and standards suffer and decline.

One way to address the situation is to increase clarity about what we want from education and transparency about what education is providing.

If we want education to provide a traditional learning experience that leads to enlightenment for its own sake, we need to make substantial investment to reduce student-teacher ratios.

If we want to reduce drop out and failure rates, we need to invest in greater student engagement to understand what they want, why they want it and the issues they face.

If we want to increase the employment opportunities of students, we need to invest in developing links with business to shape the curriculum and develop employability skills.

If we want to embrace online education through the use of technology, we need to invest in changing the traditional lecture model of teaching to that of facilitator, coach and mentor.

The challenge, of course, is for education to provide all these things at a time when financial constraints highlight the need to focus on what can be achieved.

SO, the role of education has changed and it is time to examine its role in a world that expects so much of its traditions.

What do you think?

Is education in crisis?

Look forward to your comments.