Let’s Hear It For Health!

The Fundamental Problem of Education(FPE) may be stated thusly:  How to create a learning environment in which all students achieve to the best of their abilities.  The beauty of this statement is that it encompasses all possible educational methodologies and approaches, putting the emphasis on learning that applies to every individual.  The FPE also demonstrates how complex the educational process really is, and that is especially important in the U.S. where education is linked to numerous oversimplified, but catchy slogans, i.e.  “No child left behind”; “Preparing every child to learn”, etc.  There is also a plethora of educational programs in the U.S, whose proponents make grandiose claims of educational achievement.   But rather than attempt to unify such diverse programs, there has been an increase in “fragmentation”.  However, all approaches to education that neglect the inherent complexities of the learning process, are mere shadows.  Such approaches are splinters off the FPE.  Of course, the great teachers from Socrates to Korczak, from Pestalozzi to Sukhomlinsky, have always realized the many-facetedness of learning.

The term “learning environment”  represents any environment where learning takes place.  Perhaps,in the future, it may turn out that schools are not the best places for children to learn.  Learning through the internet is now quite common.  Home schooling is becoming more popular.  Nature, a meeting hall, or various clubs and organizations are all potential learning environments.  And the number of students involved might range from 1 to n. Thus, the FPE could encompass a potentially infinite domain.

The FPE leads directly to the question:  How can we improve a learning environment?”  We might provide stimuli such as games, videos, stories, or anything that furthers a student’s concentration.  Or, we might try to reduce the obstacles to learning.  Such obstacles are either internal or external.  An internal obstacle might be a student’s limited genetics, possible brain disorders, etc.  There is little we can do in such instances, barring a lobotomy, radical brain surgery, or employing a technique we do not know at present.  External obstacles are another matter altogether.  Such obstacles may be treated with positive results.  Reducing external obstacles is similar to opening a clogged air vent that now allows the fresh rush of air.  Relaxation, concentration, meditation offer ways to deal with external obstacles, but it is important to know what such obstacles are.  It turns out that health courses which treat both a student’s mental and physical being are seminal courses, because they have the potential to truly reduce the obstacles to learning in a meaningful way.  Let’s hear it for health!