Not too long ago, I was talking with an educator to get feedback about a media project I’m helping to develop, to help disengaged high school youth. While she thought the program was a good idea, she was hesitant about it being executed in the classroom. Her reasoning sits at the forefront of my mind: “Sometimes,” she said, “the classroom is the problem.”
She elaborated: Some youth aren’t invested in the traditional school process; the classroom as a physical space has become a barrier to learning.
This wasn’t the first time I’d heard this sentiment. I’d heard variations of it from a number of the young people I’d worked with over the years. They saw school as cold and outdated, their teachers as overworked and tired. To them, education was a chore—one whose benefits were no longer so clear.
When I was growing up, the benefits of education were very clear, however shortsighted and limiting. Education was the way to get a job and make money to support you and your family. But these days, we, including the young people of today, are seeing that education isn’t always enough to accomplish that. So what’s the point?
It’s clear that we need to do more than revamp our public education system. We need to reimagine what we think when we think about education—what it means to be educated, its benefits, its delivery. Its look and feel. Its purpose.
What if we shifted the concept of education away from a means to an end and towards an open-ended pathway? And in doing so, we nurtured in young people from a young age the true value of learning and that education takes place all around us every day? We are all teachers and students. The world is our ultimate classroom. And what if that world—and all its beauty and ugliness, and all of its genius, art, culture, creativity, and daily history in the making, became the jumping off point for lessons and curricula that were facilitated in spaces conducive to learning?
Reimagine. Then go teach. And go learn.
My wish for the future: How can we shift the concept of education from a means to an end to an open-ended pathway?
Felicia Pride is the founder of Pride Collaborative, a firm that connects the dots between storytelling, media, content strategy, and offline engagement to amplify messages, broaden audiences and affect meaningful change. She also recently founded The Message Project, a multimedia initiative to encourage young people to amplify their voices.