Traditional vs. non-traditional education

Education is the foundation of growth. We must keep learning to keep progressing both as intellectual and spiritual beings, but what happens when that very foundation is weak, or not made to support the heavy weight of that progression? It stunts growth, or worse it could stop it completely. Now in a world as dynamic as ours, traditional education is not entirely capable of producing the minds that are needed for these times.

First, we need to understand what traditional education is, and simply put it’s where an institution provides the structure, rules, discipline, and resources for the student to study. The student simply needs to attend classes and go along with the syllabus to earn their degree or qualification. Anything besides that would be non-traditional education, however the main difference can be summed up in one or two words: flexibility/customisation, or at least the difference that matters in the context that is being addressed.

The reason this difference bears so much weight is because it allows the student to fine tune their studies; learn only the things that would directly impact what they do, as well as allowing them to broaden their horizons extravagantly as compared to traditional education. They will have an easier time learning skills that are not only crucial to their career but also to the times that they live in. This will involve them exposing themselves to scenarios that a classroom cannot offer, enabling them to think more dynamically than an average student would, in other words students are much better at thinking on their feet, which is a highly significant quality to possess.

Furthermore, non-traditional education is somewhat informal as it isn’t limited to a classroom and usually all that is required is a computer and an internet connection. Platforms such as Khan Academy and Coursera are good examples. However, the main drawback of such platforms is that there is a lack of networking as there is little to no direct communication between professors and students and even if there is it is for a short duration and in ways is filtered through a computer screen. It just doesn’t compare to when people meet physically and indulge in a wide array of culture and diversity, thereby losing opportunities to develop significant interpersonal skills.

Yet this problem is not difficult to overcome, it simply requires non-traditional education and traditional education to mix, and then for the students to reap the best of both worlds; where the teaching and learning styles of the new would meet the community based learning styles of the old. An appropriate example of this would be Minerva Schools at KGI. An institute that employs unique teaching techniques to maximise students’ intellectual potential combined with travel to 7 major world cities all throughout their course of study, solving the lack of cultural immersion and maintaining exposure to diversity.

Overall, every human being is unique, some may thrive in the traditional system whilst others may not. None of this, in any way, means that the traditional system is entirely flawed and that we should abandon it completely. Rather, times are changing and maybe we should go back to our foundations and assess how relevant they remain.

Nazimuddin is in his final year of A Levels in Dubai and has special interests in Economics and Psychology.

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