The notion of education has been known to human societies for thousands of years and took on different forms throughout history. The prototypes of current educational institutions such as schools, colleges, and universities date back to antiquity, for example, the concept of higher education already existed in ancient Greece (López, 2019). Historically, schooling also played a political and social role since with particular curriculums, students were taught certain values their countries’ officials wanted them to espouse. This was done to shape a person’s behavior in society and make them act under its rules. Nowadays, the focus has shifted from the country’s interests towards students’ preferences, which can be considered positive progress. Moreover, education should no longer be seen as an abstract process that is separate from reality, instead, it must adjust to the modern rapidly-changing world. Thus, good school education today constitutes a learning experience that corresponds to the needs of a particular student, aims at ensuring their future success, and relies on professional teachers and the latest educational practices.
Traditionally, the purpose of education has been to pass existing knowledge about important aspects of sciences and culture onto students to broaden their understanding of the world and society they live in. Subjects taught at the majority of schools and colleges follow a strictly defined curriculum that is universal for every student and contains information that is viewed as valuable by those who designed it. In theory, large volumes of knowledge about various topics and spheres also must develop in a person an ability to find the most relevant pieces of information for their tasks at hand. Thus, traditional education seeks to get students acquainted with as many details as possible to allow them to choose what they find the most suitable for them. Yet, unfortunately, such an approach often confuses students who struggle to understand this purpose and, as a result, start questioning the importance of what they are taught. Bryan Caplan (2019) said that such a system forces students to learn random facts which will be irrelevant in their life. This makes it necessary to find an alternative way of teaching students, and there are several ones.
As it was mentioned earlier, the current situation in the world requires people to be able to constantly adjust to new circumstances, which means that it becomes harder for people to compete for jobs. The traditional system of education has many advantages, including a variety of knowledge and subjects, but often fails to address students’ own needs and desires. Many young people already know what they want to do in their life by the age of 13-14, yet, sometimes, the spheres of their choice are not covered by the curriculum. This leaves them without an opportunity to explore the topics of their preference and, moreover, does not provide them with the assistance of professionals who specialize in this sphere. Yet, there are examples of countries that seek to address these issues, for example, in Finland, the Upper Secondary School exists, which fuses theoretical and vocational training (Dickinson, 2019). Thus, students who have chosen their desired area of expertise can easily study it more thoroughly at such schools. Thus, the purpose of a good education is to be flexible and align with the needs of students.
Several centuries ago, basic literacy and numeracy were enough for being successful and able to find well-paying jobs. Today, the competition among workers is on the rise, and to stand out, a person needs to possess unique expertise. Schools can be a perfect platform for students who want to not only broaden their horizons but deepen their existing knowledge. Allowing them to study one special field during their final years at school can be a good strategy to allow them to prepare for universities more effectively. Moreover, it saves students a lot of time, which otherwise can be wasted on learning information that will be of no particular use for their future career and life in general.
Yet, education does not simply exist in a vacuum, and it is important to assess its effectiveness and whether it produces outcomes that are expected from it. The most popular way of measurement of a school’s success is by analyzing the test results of its students. The performance of students is an essential factor for determining whether the current curriculum fulfills its purpose of delivering information to students in a manner that is understandable and clear.
Although, opponents of this way of assessment of education effectiveness may say that tests do not reflect the real knowledge of students. Instead, they simply measure whether a student can remember various facts or methods for solving particular problems and then reproduce them at a given moment. Such people often state that there are many examples of notable individuals who did poorly in school and failed all of their tests but still managed to become great in their fields of expertise. Some countries even abandoned tests, in Finnish schools, there are no standardized tests that are carried out each month, there is only one test at the end of senior year in high school (Hancock, 2011). This alleviates stress from students and reduces the level of competitiveness, which can hinder the process of learning for those who feel they cannot keep up with the best students in a class. Nevertheless, the Finnish experiences should not be followed blindly since tests still can be a good measurement technique since they show that students can think logically.
Still, tests must not be the only measurement option, how good education has to be determined based on the success of students in life in the long run. Schools play an important role in laying the foundation for students upon which they will build their future careers. It is of great significance for schools to provide knowledge that will be extensively utilized by their students and not forgotten forever. Thus, schools are partly responsible for the achievements of their students after they finish school and enter adult life. For example, the rate of university attendance of people who finished a particular school can characterize this school as either providing good or mediocre quality of education. Career success is another vital factor for every individual, and schools that taught people who went on to become great writers, notable scientists, and innovators can attribute the achievements of such individuals to their schooling. Thus, good education must be measured not only with tests but with the real-life success of those who received it.
The key to good education is teachers who have to be extremely professional in their work and willing to change their methods to provide the most relevant knowledge to their students. Teachers should not perform the role of a computer that has no emotions and simply recites information that can be easily found on the Internet or in a textbook. Instead, they have to be able to establish contact with students and encourage cooperation with them to make learning an experience rather than a mundane process. Teachers also have to be expected to give students reasons why their subject will be of significance for them in their life and how it can help them in their future careers. Innovation and variety are factors that stimulate learning and enable students to show better performance, therefore, teachers should always try to implement new approaches to teaching to keep students engaged. For example, geography teachers may use virtual reality technology to explore different countries on the planet. Thus, good education depends on the efforts of teachers to create an environment that can help students learn.
Good school education must value the needs and preferences of individual students, be measured based on their achievement in life, and rely on teachers who exhibit the highest level of professionalism. The traditional purpose of education is to provide students with information on a large number of subjects to broaden their knowledge about the world. Yet, today, this approach must give way to the one which postulates that education should respond to the interests of students since a universal curriculum neglects their needs. Determining whether education is good should be carried out using tests to measure the current results of students, although must not be limited only to this method. Assessing all the future activities of former students can also provide a better understanding of whether education was effective. Teachers are the most important actors in a school environment, and the quality of education directly depends on their ability to communicate with students. Thus, good education allows individuals to choose their path and follow it with the support of professionals.
Caplan, B. (2019). The case against education: Why the education system is a waste of time and money. Princeton University Press.
Dickinson, K. (2019). How does Finland’s top-ranking education system work? World Economic Forum. Web.
Hancock, L. (2011). Why are Finland’s schools successful? Smithsonian Magazine. Web.
López, R. (2019). Did sons and daughters get the same education in ancient Greece? National Geographic. Web.