Curriculum is good. It is good for schools. It is good for teachers who do not want to use their creative juices, but to work along some beaten path.
But every good thing has some bad sides to it. Even a beaten path can sometimes lose the adventurous intuitiveness, creativeness of the wilderness.
Schools are not supposed to build healthy balanced children. They are supposed to build healthy balanced adults, who are armed for the wilderness called “life”.
Life is not a “beaten path”. The best school in the world cannot equip the children of today to be ready for the years 2060, the years when they will need to perform their best to be able to put away money for retirement. The unexpected is inevitably going to happen. It always had. The world has changed drastically over the last 5 years. Over the last 10 years. Over the last 20 years, 40 years, etc.
Beaten path, curriculum education is good for kids. But it is not good for adults.
What is the bad side of curriculum? That the student is “dumped” information on? The flip side is to teach them to educate themselves. To explore to ask questions, even dumb questions, like why do apples fall downward and not upward? – A question that made Newton famous. Or what would happen if I drop a kilo of stones and a kilo of feathers from the top of the Leaning tower of Pisa, to see which one would drop first, like Galileo did.
I wonder why one of the best Ted Talks ever was exactly this point. How schools ruin the creativity of our children. (Schools Kill Creativity by Sir Ken Robinson, laid out the idea that our education system, which is mostly focusing on left-brain thinking, is suppressing creativity in children.)
This is why I love one on one tutoring. Especially on skype/ zoom. I asked an 11 year old, what he wants to learn. He said nothing. I asked him, what does he want to know, he said he wants to know how to drive a motorcycle, because his Rebbi once gave him a ride on one. So I googled the question on my filtered internet, while I shared screen.
Guess what? It said something interesting about riding motorbikes. If you push the front wheel right, when going over 10 mph, you will turn left. If you push the wheel left, you will turn right. Why? Because of the gyro effect. This got the kid so interested in Gyros, and why they work in such a weird way. So we started googling some of that, and he came to his father and wanted to open a discussion in physics about the Gyro effect, and why it works. This is an 11 year old kid, who is now thirsty for physics, because I let him, for once in his life, learn without curriculum!!! … The question is not, if explaining Gyro physics is important for this child or not. The question is, how do we train our disciples to ask questions and to be curious about the world around them. How do we develop in them a desire to learn, to know, to understand, to think, to be resourceful,… on their own.
His parents were not happy. They asked me, we hired you to teach him how to read fast, not to learn about gyro effects!!! I tried explaining that the first step to learning is curiosity, and a thirst for knowledge. Only if a person is interested, can he speed read, and perform at high levels of learning performance. But they did not buy in. So, I went back to the curriculum they hired me for, and the boy stopped showing any interest. It took all the fun out of his learning, the kid felt like he was now back in school, like he was chewing flavorless chewing gum. Now we try to get him to see how the things on the curriculum can help him, which is somewhat keeping him motivated, but the parents want me to stick to the curriculum without letting the child, “run the show”. Of course, in school classrooms, we need curriculum, but if curriculum education is the only education he is getting, no wonder he does not want to learn anything anymore, for the rest of his life.
Curriculum is only good if if serves your child, not if it hurts him. Instead of forcing them fish that they don’t want to eat down their thoughts, let us teach them how to fish.
I will leave you with a quote from Albert Einstein. “Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.” Curriculum is forgotten. Learning how to become curious, learning how to think out of the box, learning how to read at high speed and process information, learning how to be creative, learning how to ask questions and answer them, …. this is what education is really about. Not about curriculum.