I feel that one of the most valuable things that school could give a student at the time of the education (that is, while in school) is relevance and immediate applicability.
As we have been reading various books on utopias and dystopias in one of my classes this semester, so much of it all has become relevant in my life within a very short time of its initial introduction.
The struggle one character has with God in this book, and how she finds change to be inevitable (and, therefore, God), applies to my life the week following my reading of it… I can relate to her struggle immediately, and then the change comes up in conversation and contemplation regarding my relationships with people in my life.
I think teachers, schools, curriculum planners aim to have books students read in school to be relevant to the students’ lives, but they often fall short of the mark… they miss the applicability of the ideas and actions somehow, and only assume that this specific struggle must be applicable to all students of this age… and it often isn’t.
From English class, we need concepts, ideas, brainstormed theories that we can learn to apply to any part of life…
For history class, a historical context would be only an enhancement of our understanding of what’s going on right now, what people are discussing from the news, and why it seems to matter so much… we hardly do more than regurgitate facts, and rarely know much about what they really were like or why it mattered to people who lived it (and therefore why it might matter to us).
I today was learning of a book about a man struggling in Russia, and, as I heard the details, I knew it was around the 1920s…, because of the Russian refugees in season four of “Downton Abbey”… there was a story in which I could invest myself, and ideas to which I could relate and from which I could draw my own ideas and conclusions, and the history just kind of stuck with the affinity for the people in the story…
I interested myself with the French Revolution recently, because I discovered the wonder of the film “The Scarlett Pimpernel”… and I remember details about the revolution because of how they connect with the story of the film and its characters.
The actual history became relevant and immediately applicable for me, because of my investment in the film.
The same is so with my investment in “Downton Abbey”.
How could I possibly relate to the Russian refugees or to the French upper class, when I merely read some statements of facts, names, locations, dates, and a summed-up given political meaning to it all?
I guess that’s why I remember just about nothing from my history classes in school…
Perhaps it everybody needs this kind of education, but everyone certainly could benefit greatly from it, I dare say.
You know what I mean?