A lot, I think.
As an adult educator, I see exactly these results trudge into my classes all the time. Once I reveal to these brow-beaten people that they already know what they need to show – that each is easily intelligent and capable enough to excel if they only know how to show it – my job becomes simply that of a helper. These ‘students’ inevitably try to blame me for their later successes but I will not stand for it. People own their education… once defined succinctly as what you have left after you’ve forgotten everything you’ve learned.
I can think of no reason belonging to these students why almost every one of them (publicly educated at the taxpayer’s expense) should not be successful in whatever academic pursuit aids them in achieving a high level of expertise in whatever field they wish to participate. But I do know that the education system itself here in Canada is fractured into trying to be a job training program based on standardized skill attainment rather than an educating system that allows people to think better (and I don’t for a moment mean to suggest that we do so by some exclusion of the passions. The passions are central to our learning).
We learn through experience, by making meaning, by being present and engaged in something interesting and applicable and moving and helpful and important. We need an assortment of ways and means to bring to bear on whatever it is we are trying to learn to facilitate the richness of this interaction with all the bits and pieces and patterns and people of the world. We need an intellectual toolbox that incorporates and utilizes and enhances our natural responses to learn and broaden our understanding, gain knowledge, and create meaning from our interests. A standard curriculum (to suit standardized testing that allows comparisons to be the benchmark spectrum for defining academic excellence) that tries to encompass just about everything through skills achieves (at best) the lowest possible common denominator as its crowning glory. We should expect more – much more – from an education system. This video explains very well how we have come to educationally produce exactly this: