Re-humanization of education
If I had to answer the question "What's missing in modern education?" with one word, it would be "humanity."
Consider how "education" is currently carried out in public schools:
- Topics, length of time spent on topics, and the format for learning are decided upon by neither the teacher nor the student. Instead, a completely separate administrative body makes the decisions.
- Education is treated primarily as something that happens in a defined period in life, and in narrow age bands.
- Learning basic social skills, such as having conversations with people of different ages, is largely forbidden.
- Unstructured play, which is vital to the development of children in particular, is actively being removed.
- Teachers are rarely to never selected based on actual achievement or even interest in a field. "It's a job."
- Despite all sorts of word games, "education" and "learning" in modern mass schooling consists of students passively absorbing information from one adult talking at them, for the purpose of passing school performance exams.
Is it possible that there are better ways for not only children, but also adults, to educate themselves? Could learning be had through life experiences, and by taking on challenges that do not have an explicitly defined grading scheme at the end? Could we turn the whole concept of educaiton on its head by changing form an attitude of "How can we force kids to go through our system?" to "How can we change the system so that more people want to learn?" I created this site, because I believe this is possible.
Re-humanization of science education
There has been a good deal written about the state of education in general, but as a scientist by training, I am often shocked at how schools handle science education in particular. For example, while teaching I came across one teacher who would regularly snap at her students with the line "You don't think critically!" as if any disagreement with her authority was the definition of critical thinking itself. While much effort is given to enforcing "correct" interpretations on a variety of topics, very little is given to the reasoning process that would have led someone to arrive at those conclusions. The rather ironic result is "right-thinking" students who are entirely vulnerable to every false notion they were not explicitly prepared for in school, including the error I fear the most: institutional bias.
How do we deal with this? I think the only way forward is to permit not only students, but all people, to learn how actual science works, and perhaps involve themselves in a project that allows one to experience hte real thing. Not only could it be possible for more people to contribute to science through "crowdsourcing," but it may also be possible for more people, through the experience, to gain an understanding of the reasoning process that goes into science itself. Instead of "right thinking" people, we could have more people that are equipped to arrive at the best possible conclusions, and perhaps identify biases we do noteven know that we have.
The goals of Laboratorymike.com
In one sentence, LaboratoryMike.com is a project by the site founder, "Laboratory Mike," to create a space that is meant to encourage and foster learning by people of all ages, with an emphasis on science. This is done by:
- Providing a forum for people to talk about ideas for learning and doing science both inside and outside of formal schooling.
- Providing a project center for learners of any age to propose, plan and execute scientific projects. These can range anywhere from fun, one-off activities to formal studies.
- Fostering an open-source mindset, particularly in terms of sharing designs and data.
- Striving to build and maintain a community of learners and mentors, who help each other along on prospective projects.
Ultimately, 1,2, and 3 all combine to create #4, a thriving community of people who may very well revolutionize how we learn science!