5 Things – Education
One of the real shortcomings of the modern climbing gym is the way in which learning to climb has been democratized. Sure, you’ll learn how to safely climb, and belay. You’ll learn the dangers, the jargon, and some best practices. By the time the class is done, you will have the ability to climb safely in the gym. From there you can go to other gyms and also climb safely. Once you have enough experience, you can then teach other climbers to climb safely in gyms as well. The problem is that the education one receives from a climbing gym is limited to one type of climbing in one type of setting. That is great for gyms and gym climbers, but not so much for the world of climbing that exists outside of climbing gyms. Making the transition from indoor climber to outdoor climber is not just a matter of doing the same thing in a different setting. There are volumes of dangers that exist outside that will never occur inside. Forget a headlamp or flashlight outside and it could literally be lights out. Come with the wrong type of clothing, or wrong type of rope, or lack of gear and things can get pretty sketchy in a hurry. Then there are the skills it takes to navigate hidden trails, or the awareness of air pressure at altitude. Not to leave out the importance of proper wall and trail maintenance. I have seen graffiti and litter at nearly every crag I’ve been to.
Some gyms offer classes to help transition, but not most, and never is it mandated. I get it and I’m not knocking it; gyms aren’t and shouldn’t be responsible for the education of their patrons, but in other settings, education is mandated, and thus some institutions should be held responsible for the education of their patrons.
Public classroom education is one such example where education is mandated, and it has some room to improve. A public education should not be like the climbing gym. When students finish their degrees, they should be able to go out in the world and not be shocked about the dangers, or how different the outside world is from the safety of their classroom. Here are 5 Things that could improve public education at the elementary school level.
- It starts with the classroom teacher. Teaching is hard, it’s a lot of work. PAY TEACHERS MORE MONEY! They deserve it, it’s insane how little they get paid. Anyone who isn’t incensed that some teachers have to take on a second job to make ends meet is empathetically bankrupt. Dealing with students is one thing, dealing with administration is another, and dealing with parents is something else altogether. Education is important and education is expensive, and in the end you get what you pay for.
- Coding. Coding should be mandatory curriculum for all students at all levels. There was a day when a student could graduate from high school and join the workforce to immediately make a living with nothing more than the tools they acquired from school. Learning to code from kindergarten on brings that option back into play.
- Dissemination of information. Social media isn’t going anywhere. Entertainment news isn’t going anywhere. These things came at us fast. Faster than anyone could have expected. Our inability to disseminate factual non-biased information from non-factual biased information is a chasm that most of us will never climb out of. This is not a quality that a free democracy can withstand. Change came quickly and caught most of us off guard, but that doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. Learning how disseminate information has become an essential skill, and it should be incorporated into a public-school education.
- Farming. This one may seem a little bit out there, but teach students how to farm. Our dependence on box grocery stores, and commercial foods is out of control. Our survival is at the whim of an intricate chain in which one faulty link can lead to massive problems. A drought, a flood, a supply issue, a worker shortage, if any number of things go wrong a bunch of us ignorant morons will be left to fend for ourselves. Backyard farming seems to be a skill that most of our ancestors would approve of. Why aren’t there more community farms/gardens at public schools around the globe?
- Recess. Can we get some more time for these kids to play? Between the long division (do kids still learn long division?) and the history lessons, and the coding, and farming, and writing, and reading, can we just take some time to let these kids run around and be kids?
Of course, these are not the only five things, there are probably a million other things that are just as pressing if not more so, especially things like child safety, the abolition of standardized tests, bullying, special needs, etc.… These are just five things that I would want to see on a comprehensive list of educational improvements.