The Importance of proper education

Finally gonna write about the importance of proper education here. There are two things to clarify here. First the reasons why education is the single most important department to invest to. Secondly what’s “proper education” at least in my opinion. (I’m gonna use “high school” as equivalent for the German abitur here, since it’s pretty close. It’s basically the qualification to study at university.)

Reasons

The school is supposed to teach you important skills for adult life. But what are these skills? Some say it’s hard skills like a basic understanding of mathematics, language and science, while others will tell you social skills are just as important to be a decent adult. Sometimes you will also hear someone tell you that school is supposed to teach kids how to be a good citizen of their political system, so in many cases some political skills and knowledge are just as important. Obviously all of them need to be taught at a young age to actually be useful in life, so you could say school should teach you “as much as posisble”.

One of my prime reasons for good education is actually pretty selfish. I basically just want to live in a country with good neighbours. Sure a lot of people are pretty cool, but they can also be pretty retarded sometimes. This is mostly visible in school full of noisy bratty kids even in higher grades. They complain instead of improve leading awful situations. Then many just fall in the hands of extreme groups. Really, I don’t have much faith for most people who are very inconsiderate or who vote for those parties that completely go against their well being.

Aside from that wishful idealistic utopia there are of course more realistic reasons. Education brings perspective of various kinds. It can open various paths to future professions someone can take. So good education is vital for most success in our society. Of course there are many other factors and sometimes there are alternative routes to success. But these are just the exception. If you want to get a good job, you have to learn the basics, which are taught in school of course. Well as this is rather straight forward on which everyone can agree on, there isn’t much more to talk about.

Instead if you take the opposite into consideration, bad education can foster a huge lack of prospects. This is very important as extremist groups mainly fish among young men who achieve nothing in their life. They look for those who don’t feel comfortable in the country or city they live in. This is mainly the case for islamic extremists, but it can also be used for some other extreme right or left groups. According to this study this thought has a basis, as violent activists had less and poorer education compared to nonviolent activists. So those who spend more time in school were less violent on average. This doesn’t mean that education prevents terrorist activities, but it might be a first step. This is also disregarding unknown long term effects.

As a side effect more educated adults choose to have children later on average, where they have a more stable life. As such kids can enjoy a more relaxed upbringing. This point doesn’t have much basis, but I believe it probably benefits them. Furthermore children of parents of higher education tend to stay longer in school and receive more education themselves. This is especially true for some countries like Germany where children of parents who finished higher education also finish school with a higher degree. As shown in that table, 62.5% of those who have parents who passed high school in Germany did so themselves. Whereas only 27.7% and 14.5% of those whose parents had the one of the next two degrees respectively could actually get their abitur.

It’s simple to see how these two points further boost each otehr resulting in an even worse situation. It’s important to be aware of that, as the negligence of that can create social issues. In other words, if one truly wants to solve the problems of ghettos and downtowns in the long run, a good school system is essential to that solution. However this takes a lot of time, since it’s a process involving many generations. Yet it’s one of the best solutions we have to permanently reduce poverty in our capitalistic countries.

Richard David Precht(German), a German writer and philosopher also makes a good point for better education. As we automatize our lives more and more, it’s inevitible that we need a new structure for our society. There will come a day when parts of the population will be jobless without fault, who will have nothing to do for weeks and months. In that state, we need ideas to spend our everyday life. That could be simple hobbies such as reading or writing. It’s just important that those with nothing to do don’t fall to some desire like drugs and hurt their surroundings. On top of that, I think school as an institution can foster certain qualities in humans that are very helpful in life. As I described in my last article, I went through school with a lot of curiousity, that kept me going and still does to some degree. In general I think curiousity is vital to learn new things for us. The school is a place that can pull out these qualities from some of us.

So far I’ve given a quite a lot of reasons why a proper education system is important while completely avoiding to go in-depth with actual skills. It’s not like they aren’t important. Rather, they’re much more complicated as there’s limited time to teach kids a wide spectrum of different skills.

To start with, I wanna show you a little thought experiment. Let’s say there’s a poor couple of a stressed father and mother who have a boy. That boy, being hit by his father and living under his ironclad rule, often goes out on the streets to meet with others who are in the same situation as him. Naturally it’s the same in school, so they all grow up stressed by their families unable to do well in school, where they do poorly. Afterwards they don’t achieve much and are just as stressed as their parents, raising a new generation. Looking at some schools, listening to teachers and seeing statistics how poverty and low education of parents can affect their children, this scenario doesn’t seem too unlikely. Important to note here are the three social groups that children can get in touch with. Their family, their peers and other social life. To have the biggest chance of getting these kids out of this vicious cycle, you’d need to have some system to let the school (or in this case teachers) call for help for them. In Germany that’s possible to some degree, albeit it can be stressful for the homeroom teacher. They still can and will act in their pupils benefit if they see them being abused.

Lastly as I mentioned above, there ar many skills that need to be taught. Social skills to properly interact with others in a country, political skills to be able to properly form and voice your opinion and hard skills for the basics of life. I might’ve forgotten some even, but that’s relevant here, because they don’t add more reasons. Instead it’s far more significant to note that school life determines a lot of the character and political view.

Proper structure

All that said, the list to work on is quite big. Nevertheless, I think the solution is achievable so it’s worht to try. But as I implied above, change won’t come suddenly, so there might not be much merit in the first decade. Still, it has to be worked on and goals have to be set.

To start with, let’s go to kindergarten. Kindergarten or preschool is the first step into social life. For some, it’s one of the first interactions they have with strangers. It can be important for kids to be slowly adapt to new place and a new daily routine. So preschool can relieve the kids from some of the initial nervousness or overwhelming feeling they can get from school. It’s also a good place for them to learn the country’s language in case they have foreign parents. Kids who can’t speak the language of the country they live in have a harder time keeping up with school after all. That’s especially crucial in the early years where they learn vital skills like reading and writing. To give everyone equal oppurtunities a common ground to start with is absolutely neccessary. So preschool should be required for everyone to start with. It’s also hard to say it’s up to the parents to decide what’s best for their children, since they might not know after all. They might act against their kids will or interest without without knowing.

Afterwards begins the real deal, school starts and it needs a plan. Here is where it’s getting difficult. No one can say what’s best, but everyone wants the best and has their own opinion. The problem is, that they differ a lot, even among teachers who have lots of experience. The best way to improve the environment should be empirical studies Luckily we have that. John Hattie published a huge study that revealed some huge findings. He found out that the main factor are teachers. Additional assets such as tvs, computers etc. are only secondary to their role in teaching. Even the size of classes don’t factor in that much contrary to popular believe. (Although I would argue that big classes can negatively affect the teachings of a teacher as it is more stressful for them. So I wonder how this changes if you look at the total number of students a teacher teaches or some other factor regarding that.) Taking Hattie’s meta-study into account, the highest priority should be a huge staff of teachers, who’re additionally supported by other groups. Different countries try different concepts like observing other teachers in their styles or teaching classes in coop. All these are mainly experiments though and need empirical grounds.

Especially Germany needs empirical studies on this subject. Unfortunately there are no studies on the techniques of teaching. Our education system is state organized, the federal government just gives the overall guidelines. As such they can avoid any criticism and push it to the federal states. Those just try new things over and over again without any empirical basis or money to support it. On top of that, qualitative studies on the different school systems among federal states are illegal. This creates a huge mess where some of our states try to keep up with others, experimenting a lot in the process. To nongermans a clue what I mean. When I went to high school and did my abitur, no teacher knew the general guidelines, because they’re changed every two years. So the only ones who actually try to keep up are those who oversee a class. My federal state, Bremen, which is actually just a city, also tried “inclusion”. Mentally disabled kids should learn with others in the same classroom to benefit from normal students. These classes should be supported by additional, specialized personal to aid the teachers with these kids. But since money ends fast for the city-state, they cut the support and left the classroom teachers alone. That’s one of the experiments I meant when I described them above. They’re done without basis and it’s very questionable if they even benefit anyone or not just hold back most kids with these special education students.

Well back to topic where we’re trying to find out what “proper” education should look like. According to Hattie, the teacher is the vital pillar in the development of his pupils. If I consider my thoughts of the teacher being a sensor for parental abuse or other negative behaviour, then they become even more important. They can also serve as a role model next to parents. All this is a lot of pressure, so much that teachers need to be some kind of superhumans to do their job really well in that model. That doesn’t mean they all need to fullfil these criteria though. It’s fine if some only teach their subject. However, not all of them should be like cold robots who only teach their students formulas, grammar, etc. Some guidance or some motivational pressure is neccessary for success if you ask me.

But since the role of the teacher is so import, it hurts to see them not be as respected in many western countries. It’s kinda understandable as there are black sheep among them, who demotivate their students or leave off other bad memories. But it makes me wonder where this negativity starts off. Is it the annoying students with their bratty attitude? Is it the overworked teachers who burned out long ago and just wait to get into pension? Unfortunately I don’t know the answer. Luckily I had very good teachers, so I can only partly imagine all the bad stories I’ve heard.

To conclude: A proper system for education needs a well trained army of teachers, who lead their students both intellectually and mentally as guidestones into adult life. They can heavily influence them, which might leave an imprint for the rest of their lives.

Some words at the end

Well, I can’t come up with much more to write about on this topic. I hope this this article was coherent enough and not too confusing. I tried to get my point across, but since there are some more connections to draw, it’s kinda difficult to write about it in one text.

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