American education relies on rote memory to ensure learning. Even at the college level, students devote time to a process that includes reading, listening, notetaking, studying, and testing. This allows students to gather information in the same way any recording device might store information. Unlike electronic storage, our memories fade; we forget more than we recall over time. The lost information doesn't serve us or others.
By the time students enter college, they have basic skills and life experiences that can serve them to not only gather, but retain and use information in sophisticated ways. This is the seed of the Socratic method, a process of experiential learning credited to the greek philosopher Socrates. Rather than simply gather information and regurgitate it on an exam or other assignment, this method puts the student's brain to work critically applying higher level thnking skills to discover the methods, parts, best practices, and organizational aspects of meeting a challenge. Instead of telling students what Pythagoras did, this methods sends them out to discover the height of a tree, for example, by hook or by crook; leading to self discovery and perhaps a better understanding of the pythagorean theorm. It simply embeds experience with theory to make more permanent and indelible impressions n the learner.
So the goal of education remains the same: educate the student regarding a particular principle. The methodology, however, becomes more field-oriented or experiential. This method is being used throughout the world, but not as effectively as possible in the American school system. Education in America has become as much crowd control as it does a platform for learning. While schools can boast graduates who can read, write, and compute, do they graduate a high percentage of thinkers, doers, and problem solvers? Do they retain able students or lose too many to the street?
This is the crux of the argument. Education as it exists in America today focuses its energy on those who can follow the pattern outlined at the beginning of this article - gather and regurgitate. Those who perform differently are marginalized. Through no fault of the systems other than trying to hold the masses accountable in measurable ways by the end of the term, the system stifles learning, enterprise, interest, and internal motivation in many who might otherwise advance.
This, it becomes the mandate of the few to share the wisdom of the past through Socratic education, based in experience, trust, guidance, and evaluation of a sort that includes the process in the outcome. In the best interest of those to come and those who are now part of the educational system, the focus must become critical evaluation of the process of "finding out" instead of simply providing a structure of horizontal and vertical rows populated by horizintal and vertical thinkers.