Stagnant wells

Going through modern education after actually learning what it is missing and being one of the initiators of this institution, has pushed me to actually really dig into the issues that surround the field I have chosen to work in, that of psychology and education. One of the main problems that has bothered me is that of the knowledge we are supposedly learning in typical university settings, where we go through the gauntlet of the basics and then are given some tools to navigate our careers upon graduation, if we manage to find jobs in our relevant fields, that is.
Of course one of the big constraints I see is that of how applicable what we are learning is actually relevant to the real world. Most of it seems to fall into the declarative realm of knowledge where concepts are memorized and regurgitated for the mark and then likely forgotten about unless the student has an intrinsic motivation to retain the knowledge, though that does not seem to be the case too often. Essentially you are not given the means to apply what you have learned in a practical manner, one in which the learner is given the freedom to really think about and apply the material that they have learned. There is no room for creativity or exploration of the concepts because educators typically present them in a systematic manner, that for the most part, cuts out the factors of independence and freedom of thought that creativity and critical thinking need to flourish. Through this process, you begin to see through modern educational experience and it reveals how dumbed down or narrow much of the material is. A degree or doctorate are just pieces of paper noting a title and tell you nothing of critical thinking capacities but more of a level of conforming to a particular ideology or monetary investment. There may be the passion but passion can also translate to a sort of fixedness in its defense.
It seems that there is just the notion of elementary representations that rarely reach a higher order, and a lot of this has to do with the way modern educational institutions present these concepts through a deliberately designed sequence of experiences where the mind was not designed to learn from instruction. There are also three notable constraints to creativity in the form of the lack of variety and independence in their studies, a need for adherence to deadlines, and bureaucratic goal setting and scheduling, all of which interfere with higher cognitive functioning. Overall, the aforementioned problems need to be dealt with so the learner’s mind can adapt to the world in a way that matches its pace and not stick to rigid structures which create a lag in the progress of creativity and discovery (Ohlsson, 2011).
The constraints and inadequate transfer of knowledge lead down a road of competence, but in a narrow sense. Where often you will here knowledge based on local coherence, or whatever was learned for passing marks, as the memory from the experience typically does not last that long due to the aforementioned deadlines and scheduling. However you will not find much in the way of global coherence, or bigger picture thinking because the locality only allows for the individual to pull from the well what they have memorized and there may be difficulty in connecting pieces or bringing the coherence of the topic into a higher order concept. Essentially, knowledge and cognition should be allowed to flow naturally like a river that leads drifters into a vast ocean, though instead, many universities have opted to establish wells of knowledge through which there is a price to drink from, though their waters abet cognition and cannot match the constant steady flow that can only be found by catching a wave.

Ohlsson, S. (2011). Deep learning: How the mind overrides experience. Cambridge University Press

3 thoughts on “Stagnant wells

  1. University systems require those things because they decide that is what they want. Research shows us that universities engage in some of the worst types of learning experiences that there are. The learning experiences in a university are designed to provide as little interference as possible to the core purpose of a university – research.

    Masters? Most Masters programs have become nothing more than an extension of an undergrad. Memorize more and more.

  2. The university system requires lectures, deadlines and books to be read so that you can process the information and add your own thoughts or relate the topic to another similar subject. To really dive into a field of study that really interests you, isn’t that what the masters program is for? There copius amounts of online journals to boost self guided learning.

    1. Some of the research points to the process being at the point of unethical, in terms of having the learners actually developing critical thinking or higher cognitive skills. It has created an environment where it is more about maintaining the status quo than having students learn. You can see this when you look at the way in which GPAs have been steadily rising over the last few decades, grade inflation shows that something is up. Granted, there are a few exceptions to the rule, people that are more intrinsically motivated go outside the bounds of the institution, but the majority of students intrinsic motivations to learn are typically stifled before they even step into a college or university because education relies heavily on extrinsic motivations (grades, degrees, tickets, etc). So they have trapped themselves in this transition period between how education used to work and what the future is going to demand in terms of qualifications and knowledge.

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