What Schools Are Not Teaching (And Should)

Corri Smith, Principal at Whittier Elementary School, helps fourth grader Edmund Donoso and his mother Brittany his new

Societies have failed their exams on education. From the beginning to the end through all the school years, our children are sentenced to tiring days confined within classroom walls. It is clear that today’s educational system is far from perfect, but can we afford to just wait for a miraculous change to happen? We need to start asking what the changes are that we would like to see. How should schools be designed so that our children will enjoy their time spent learning and they will actually learn things that enable them to realize their full potential as human beings?

The variety of problems we see in society begin in schools. The contempt, condescension and bad relations so common on social networks, in the workplace, on the roads, as well as in the media, in politics, any and everywhere, are all side effects of what happens in schools. A person, a human being, a humane member of society, is not built there as is evident in the end result. We pay the price throughout life as individuals and as a society.

Similar to the way many layers of various minerals were deposited to create the Grand Canyon, so children are treated at school. They are all assembled as a big block, filled layer by layer, like in a production line, without regarding how the place should be built to be adapted to the particular physiological and emotional needs of a child who is growing and developing. Unfortunately, any typical school is a place steeped with violence, ruthless competition and anger, where many students suffer from boycotts, bullying, and other serious phenomena. Nationwide, 42.1% of U.S. students ages 12–18 experienced bullying in the classroom according to federal statistics.

The variety of problems we see in society begin in schools. The contempt, condescension and bad relations so common on social networks, in the workplace, on the roads, as well as in the media, in politics, any and everywhere, are all side effects of what happens in schools. A person, a human being, a humane member of society, is not built there as is evident in the end result. We pay the price throughout life as individuals and as a society.

In order to design something completely different we need to start by drawing a picture of the life we ​​would like our children to live in adulthood. In a world that is becoming more and more connected, the most important thing for success is to know how to build positive relations with others. A person who knows how to make mutual social connections and who could organize good connections between people around him or herself, such a person would succeed in anything and everything: in business, in the workplace, in relationships and in the family. Therefore, the main occupation of the schools should be to build a person with the ability to connect with each and every one.

How do we do that? About a third of school time should be devoted to methods such as circle discussions, conversations, workshops, contact exercises, friendly games, watching meaningful movies, theater simulations, role-playing games and all sorts of means aimed at developing a person’s ability to feel others and communicate well. The goal is to build a deep bond between the children, to make them feel like a cohesive group where everyone feels for everyone and supports each other.

The topics that should be studied in such a framework are from the field of human relationships and the psychology of social relationships between children and parents, boys and girls, etc., so that everyone will understand how others are constituted and see what they can take from it for fulfillment. It goes without saying that we will first need to prepare an infrastructure of teachers who will be experts in leading such processes and detailed curricula.

Another third of the time should be devoted to study tours, field trips, outside of school. The goal is to get to know life itself, the city, the country, the world; to see how different facilities work like banks, factories, courts, hospitals, high-tech companies, automobile repair shops, agricultural greenhouses or chip manufacturing laboratories. They need to see everything with their own eyes, understand how things work, talk to professionals who will explain the working methods, the technologies they use, the laws on which they are based.

Children should be prepared for each tour in advance and followed up with a summary where each child will present his or her impressions of the tour to their classmates, and everyone will absorb the impressions of everyone else. Such tours will inspire children to understand why it is necessary to learn about all sorts of professions that seemed unnecessary in the first place. Another beneficial option is arranging for the youth to be integrated in various workplaces each week so students will be able to find out which profession they are interested in. This will naturally increase their desire to learn and polish their abilities and skills.

PhD in Philosophy and Kabbalah. MSc in Medical Bio-Cybernetics. Founder and president of Bnei Baruch Kabbalah Education & Research Institute.