Recently I saw an interesting debate in the media between a government minister for education and a reality show host. The essence of the debate centred around the minister's belief in traditional education and the reality show host's belief that education was unnecessary.
What is interesting about this argument is that both were arguing from a biased standpoint. The minister was clearly defending his own education through school and university whilst the reality show host was favouring his self-made man approach.
Both, in their own way, were electioneering. The minister was clearly defending the status quo in order to appeal to an electorate that has a tendency to hark back to an idealised past, while the reality show host was trying to appeal to those people that look to reality shows as a quick fix to fame. He realises that this myth is essential for his shows to attract audiences to make him rich in the same way that politicians require votes to keep them in power.
Unfortunately, what voting does is make people choose one option or another. Neither the minister nor the host are entirely wrong. In reality there is merit in both approaches. However, the vote polarisation has led to a society where black and white are the predominant colours rather than various shades of grey.
What education needs is a healthy dose of both of these approaches if it is to remain relevant for the 21st Century. There is no doubt that there is some requirement for an education system based on received learning that helps to develop intelligence. However, there is also a need for a healthy dose of skills that enable the developed intelligence to become applied intelligence or wisdom.
Those latter skills include the willingness to try and not to be afraid to fail sometimes; the willingness to take risks; the willingness to follow your instincts; the willingness to take options other than the obvious route mapped out for you; the willingness to follow your passions and desires rather than doing what you are expected to do.
All of this requires that the two approaches are mixed and interwoven into a much more relevant and adaptable education system that can cope much better with the ever changing and fast moving world of today.
Someone once said that intelligence is knowing that tomato is a fruit; wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad! What is important in that quote is that the two parts are interdependent. Why can't our education system cope with such interdependency?