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lake awry

Rethinking education

Editorial Comment - Inuvik Drum

School attendance and performance continue to be a big issue in the North.

It isn't great in the first place at the elementary level and then it drops off even further in high school.

The subject is complicated. Educators have spent and will continue to spend years debating it, and it can't be solved in a 400-word editorial.

Taking an alternative perspective, I don't think public school is in all that good of a place these days, north or south.

Growing up in Vancouver, my friends and I now shake our heads incredulously at how poorly we were prepared for the world.

Everyone passes public school down there but I'm not sure that means it's cranking out geniuses.

Notably missing was any sort of financial or economic education. 

Most 18-year-old graduates in Canada, I would bet, cannot tell you how to do taxes, what interest is, basics of how economies function or even where the government gets its money. A lot of my peers now at 28 can't even explain half those things.

It is predatory how these young adults are pushed into signing up for expensive college degrees when many of them can barely articulate what a loan means. In the Western world, we're teetering on the edge of a bubble because of that.

I didn't like school. I get why youth don't go. I'm not saying it's right. But I get it, and I wish they had better options.

I think it's sad how much lost potential we have in high school. 

For many bright young people, that 14- to 18-year-old age range is one of the peaks of their lives for inspiration, creativity and drive. They could be doing a lot more for the world than going to school. 

Nowadays, that contribution to the world is delayed even further with the near-compulsion to attend a post-secondary institution. In some ways, we're just extending childhood.

Some people could take what I'm saying as anti-education. I'm anti any sort of monopoly on what education means. I am absolutely pro-education, but with a diverse view of what education entails.

This rigid ladder of grades, levels and institutions we must grind through from childhood until adulthood serves more to choke and limit the progress of the world than enhance it. 

A fundamental education is vital to every society. Defining how to achieve that is where opinions might differ.

What really matters is being able to harness the special abilities unique to all of us. There is no useless person in the world, and no one who can't contribute if put in the right situation.

To flip the subject around, the goal has to be an education system diverse enough to empower each individual, rather than trying to make everyone fit in the same box.

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