For someone not in the education industry (word used on purpose), I spend a lot of time thinking about education. Just like work issues, the constant and daily reality of school tends to hit you over the head until you just have to pay attention.
The thing on my mind today is how much we force kids to record about their lives. Our schools today encourage and often require kids to monitor and measure every aspect of their behavior.
Of course kids are graded and/or judged just about every second of their lives through the normal course of testing, grading, and disciplinary structures. However, that’s just the beginning. Now things are getting a lot more exacting.
We are now expecting and demanding data and measurement from their leisure time, and even about their physical action. We want to measure how much they read during their free time. How many books they read. How many words and how many minutes they took to read those words. We want to them to log the pages read in journals and sign off on it. We want them to wear pedometers and record the number of steps they take in a day. We want to review it with them and encourage physical activity. We want to monitor their behavior during the day and mark it on charts which we hang on the wall. We want to control the volume of their voices in different environments. We want them to record the vegetables they eat in pocket notebooks like anorexics.
We want to take all of that data and package it up into inspirational achievements. We want to group the data into sets and look at trends over time. We do it all for nice reasons. We want them to read. We want them to exercise. We want them to not watch too much TV. We want them to eat good food and not get overweight. But it’s all a bit much.
Our children have to grow up to join the workforce and hopefully find some meaning in their lives. Those notebooks that we made them write and data that we forced them to compile will have long been lost. But I’m sure the neurotic mentality to constantly record, measure, and judge will have been long ingrained. It doesn’t sound like we are creating a generation of the creative thinkers that our economy demands, but rather a group that will need constant validation and rely on data for its religion. As soon as measurement and data becomes a fuel that we constantly need like food, we start acting like computers. And the world of 2030 will probably have plenty of those to go around.