What is the objective of pre-university education? This question has been buzzing around my head for the last few weeks. I believe two main objectives are; provide a general understanding of the world and prepare youth for the ‘job world’. This begs the question: Do current systems achieve this?
Education systems across the world and even within a single country vary greatly. As this comparison is a massive undertaking, I will focus on three areas I believe should be improved. They are as follows:
- Deeper exposure to career choices
- Promoting appreciation/understanding of other cultures
- Merging of technology and education
The ‘Job World’
In the past children often got a taste of the ‘job world’ by helping to support their family’s business/trade. Many of my friends and I feel the shift from education to the ‘job world’ is like jumping into a foggy void. In pre-university education, most systems focus on a few core subjects. Many will then choose a university major based on the core subject(s) they excelled at and/or enjoyed. Yet these core subjects give a limited insight to the career options available. Also, choosing a career path without any exposure is similar to choosing to do the Tour de France, without ever riding a bike!
I suggest a pre-university system that enlightens and encourages students towards a specific career path. In my opinion the final 1-2 years leading up to university should be devoted to self-discovery. An idea could be having 2-3 projects where students choose a specific career or topic to explore. Students can either choose from a list of choices or a program can give suggestions based on interests/personality. Additionally, for a final project the students could do an internship or shadow someone in the specific field of choosing (perhaps even virtually).
The Global Melting Pot
Being immersed in different cultures is a truly eye opening experience. In my opinion this expands ones perspective on the world and allows for creativity beyond the cultural norms of a given culture. However, most people only learn about the history of other cultures, rather than the current cultural customs, norms, and beliefs. Sticking to one’s own culture is rather futile, since globalization is rapidly pushing different cultural groups to mingle. Also, the desire for companies to succeed internationally requires employees to interact with people outside their culture on a daily basis.
Although, cultural differences are intriguing they can also cause misunderstandings and serious problems. This is why I believe school systems need to actively promote understanding and appreciation for all cultures. If schools are culturally diverse to begin with, the schools should find fun ways to highlight all the cultures present at the school. For younger children, schools can celebrate and/or teach the holidays and festivals of other cultures. For teenagers schools can arrange cultural excursions to museums, restaurants of foreign cuisine, other countries, etc. Another idea is a Skype pen pal program, where students are paired with another student of another country. Of course students also benefit greatly from learning one or more foreign languages. Especially important is to view other cultures objectively, instead of adding negative labels, like strange or bad.
The Tech & Edu Bond
To be continued…