All education systems are not created equally and there is no such thing as a perfect system, but consensus is that our educational infrastructure is in need of reform; this is becoming increasingly evident as research continues to indicate our poor performance nationally, growing gaps along socioeconomic lines, increasing drop out rates, and high unemployment among recent graduates. In essence: a failure of our educational system. It is no wonder then, that education reform has become such a dominant issue in today’s social conversation.
The question of what “education reform” means, however, is entirely up for debate and often contested. This is because education reform is a wide array of bureaucratic, social and institutional steps, rather than a single action. Common solutions generally suggest revising budgets, addressing rising costs and student debt, and better preparing students to enter and succeed in the workforce. While targeted efforts are sensible, they have been piecemeal and sustained few real improvements. Fundamentally, education reform refers to improving the system in such a way that it contributes to broad economic prosperity, greater individual and societal self-reliance, and a healthy civil society.
There is little consensus on how to best achieve these objectives, however. I propose a transformative change, a movement that addresses more than test scores, teacher accountability, or high school graduation rates. I propose a reform that cultivates a culture of wisdom and intellect based on accurate communication and knowledge. In other words, a new system that emphasizes critical thinking; that empowers every individual to form educated opinions and make informed decisions; and that allows individuals to effectively communicate these opinions. This is a movement of educational empowerment in which students are equipped with the skills necessary to succeed and contribute to society, leading to an educated citizenry- an Educatocracy.
We have unfortunately come to categorize “educated” in terms of institutional qualification wherein we are taught to complete mundane tasks of memorization and recitation, when we should ultimately pursue an education whose purpose is to increase our relative quality of life and maximize our contribution to society; we must seek an education that allows us to learn how to live as well as enables us to make a living. Education must address the practical issues that present themselves in a modernized world; it should teach us how to stay out of debt, illuminate more efficient ways of collaboration, and show us how to cultivate mastery in a certain area while still maintaining diversity in application. Education, when correctly implemented, allows us to make more accurate and informed decisions while maintaining awareness of how our decisions can affect others. Empowering students with economic responsibility, accountability and the potential for social impact is key, in addition to a focus on emotional intelligence that allows individuals to properly express and channel emotion into actionable change. This is what Educatocracy aims to accomplish.
On a large scale, many of the world’s problems arise from a lack of equal access and exposure to useful knowledge and critical skills training; modern education standards lack the intrinsic motivation that drives humanitarian benefits. We have instead been taught to value greed through institutions that prioritize only extrinsic motives for performance; this methodology of purely capitalist output has not worked. I propose that a society that is inspired to work, think, and produce, will perform optimally. In this way, people can understand one another better and collaborate to solve problems-instead of competing solely for the gratification of possessions-thereby developing a sense of empathy and camaraderie at a community level. Creating continuity and synergy between life and learning is a key necessity in an Educatocracy. This synergy enables students to recognize that education is not simply an institutional process but also a lifelong pursuit that provides tools for coping with life’s demands; it provides meaning, context, and purpose to education, and thus an intrinsic motivation to learn.
For such a transformative movement in education to occur, we must race towards a call to action that communicates the holistic desire for social change via education reform. There is no better platform for this type of call to action than media productions that inspire truth, creativity, and positive impact through thought-provoking narratives that will promote understanding and sow the seeds of Educatocracy. At the2012 Clinton Global Initiative University, Jon Stewart joked about starting a TV show as a means of reaching a large audience for promoting social change. I propose a documentary series on comparative education, so that an audience can see the variations in educational systems around the world.
Like with anything else that informs important decisions, we need to dig deep into the pros and cons of various forms of pedagogy in order to develop a well-reformed system. Using film as a platform for communication, we can document our research and convey our findings to the public, thereby raising awareness on a large scale and essentially lobbying for an effective overhaul of our current educational system. Following the example of documentaries like Waiting for ‘Superman,’ this film project would examine individual case studies and showcase different instruction methods across select school systems around the world as a means of seeking to understand other countries’ initiatives in youth engagement and empowerment.
Educatocracy is a movement towards a more harmonious globalization and a collective increase in quality of life through an “organic” education system. Through an Educatocracy, we can achieve a comprehensive system that allows empowered, well-informed, emotionally aware individuals to complementarily utilize their skills and collectively have positive impact on society. It is a solution to the ailments of our current state of education and largely, to the maladies of society.