Schooling vs Learning

“Your degree is a piece of paper, your education is seen in your behavior.”

“Never confuse education with intelligence.”

“Not all classrooms have four walls”

I don’t think I actually need to really discuss this idea in detail. I think that many of us have understood the difference between schooling and learning, just as the above-written quotes said. However, I still want to share my thoughts this, particularly in this time of global pandemic.

Schooling has lasted for generations, starting from the industrial system to the current system. The schooling system keeps improving year after year up till what we have witnessed today, though, we have to admit that it doesn’t change much. It all started with the industrial revolution whereas factory workers were needed as many as possible, all the way to the modern school as like what we have now. Some of us Are (or have been) trying to transform the system to the “future” system that is more personalized and focusing on one’s skills rather than a rigid curriculum like what many of us have.

George Couros

This discussion is inevitable if we look into what learning should actually mean. The term learning, I think, has been way too long connected to schooling. That you go to school to study and to learn. However, as we now become more critical and the world needs a much better quality of schooling system, we begin to question the existing schooling system. “Do we actually learn at school?”

Sadly, probably we don’t. Probably, our children do not really learn. This is also what very often successful people say about schools and even colleges or universities.

“School fails us”

“School fails entrepreneurs”

“I learn nothing at school”

You can continue adding your personal experience on the list, and though we hate to admit, this happens to be the reality. Worse, schools are run like business corporations, particularly in Indonesia. I don’t know about another country, but this is really the case for private schools in Indonesia. Money and profitability mean more rather than the learning and advancement of the teachers and students.

We have to be fully aware that learning is not the same as schooling. Studying doesn’t mean you are learning. We could study all night long but literally learn nothing. We could go to school but no learning happens.

This should raise a question, “What makes us really learn then?

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A-ha moment, reflections, connections to previous knowledge, and so on. Things that many of us have forgotten or chosen to forget. This also leads to the idea that learning could happen anywhere, both inside the classrooms and outside the classrooms. Learning could happen at home, when we play video games, play soccer, or when we so seriously study a subject.

True learning should come from our curiosity about something. That works as our motivation to learn. Research shows that when we know what we are looking for and thus we are looking for how we get there, learning becomes so effective and thus performance is high.

But, why is this not happening in many schools? You could name a lot of factors. Teachers, curriculum, leaders, government, and so on. But, we have one thing in common. We lost the passion for true learning that will advance the cause of the world.

Teaching lessons from Pixar – Teaching in Higher Ed

So, these are my suggestions. Teachers need to really start teaching properly, in the sense that teachers need to facilitate student learning so that they become full oneself. Students need to be taught how to learn and why to learn instead of merely what to learn. School leaders need to realize this reality and take courage to transform schools. The government needs to refine the curriculum and transform the face of education which will affect the whole industry. We all need to collaborate to keep criticizing the education system but at the same time work to our best effort on how to help us all learn.

The good news is that we could learn anything and anywhere, and we have no excuse now to say that we don’t have access to the sources of learning. Even those in the remote areas could learn from nature and the interactions with one another.

So.. happy learning. Be more aware and reflective of things around us. Read more, watch more, question more, criticize more, learn more. By so doing, we help to change the world no matter how small it is.

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