Our educational system is based on the academic ability. The main reason for that is that the whole system was invented around the world during the nineteenth century to meet the need of industrialism (Robinson, 2006). Maybe during that time, the applied system and curriculum met the needs of the society as well as the working place, but is it still efficient until these days?
The academic ability comes to dominate our view of intelligence. How many times do you meet brilliant and creative people who do not value the talent they possess? This is due to the fact that, the subjects they were good at, at their schools, were not actually valued but rather stigmatized. The fact that the system at our schools emphasizes academic performance, a good performance would be met by rewards, and a bad performance would be met by asking for a meeting with the parents. Teachers focus on memorization and testing, which lead to a lack of curiosity and the ability to think critically or independently. Consequently, students are rewarded for accuracy and not innovation. The system emphasizes so much academic performance to the point that students’ failure is so severe that it affects their own self-image. Students are also highly motivated to compete and to achieve high grades. The impact of competition has resulted in standardization and created high expectations including that everyone learns the same and in the same way. Standardized tests and quantifiable objectives with a visible ranking are used to decide whether the student passes or fails. This standardization denies the fact that no brain is the same as the other because each develops its own logic and rationality, it favors something to another (De Montaigne, 2006).
In Lebanon, students are rewarded for their accuracy and not innovation, and here comes the role of teachers in encouraging students to think critically and to come up with new views depending on the subject at hand. Teachers should understand that research is not enough to write a paper, standardized tests are not fair, and encouraging competition among students should be banned. Why are students graded for the amount of information they retain? And why failure is so severe? Is it wrong to commit mistakes? If students were to take the acquired information as it is, how are they supposed to enrich their brains and enhance their problem-solving skills? Students should be able to acknowledge their errors, revise them, as well as correct them without feeling judged or stigmatized. Edelman, in his “Second Nature” book, acknowledged the importance of tolerating errors by stating “ unlike the requirement that error must be removed from a computer program, however, the likelihood of error must be tolerated even in the normal individual if the brain is to confront novelty in an adaptive fashion.”(Edelman, 2006). With appropriate support, students should be encouraged to develop their own solutions based on a personalized curriculum.
Building up knowledge and learning should be transformed into a fun experience where innovation and creativity are the scales for measuring students’ performance.