Education vs Life | A Thought

education vs life

The answer to learning.

Most formal/traditional/current education systems provide lessons with the view the learners at some stage will complete some kind of test to prove understanding, skills, knowledge etc

Life on the other hand, provides tests and it’s up to us to make sense of the lesson (with the opportunity to pass that knowledge, skills, understanding etc on in some way).

Because I didn’t know better, the social media training I’ve developed and delivered in the past takes this test-first approach. Providing a problem to solve and a reflective space to discuss the lessons learnt (sometimes after failure), meant highly engaged participants with fantastic feedback plus obvious learning outcomes.

Would be fun to reverse the current educational paradigm of teach, learn, test.

Then again, that’s just my opinion—say otherwise in the comments below.



  1. I agree DK, thats why so many kids disconnect from school as they get older. They struggle to see how it relates to real life. The irony is that even if a school tries to do it different it has to try and shift the parental perception and at times work against political ideology that can both want to measure and compare. Real learning is to conceptual and organic for that – just like real life!

    1. Appreciate you taking the time to comment Tim – thank you. Always great to have an insight from someone more knowledgable about the current system than just a Welsh guy at the fringes with some ideas he thinks matter… *bows*

  2. I agree that many educational institutes follow the teach + learn + test model, especially as students get older, but would like to point out that there are some who follow the pedagogical approach where the learning is derived from the problem, co-constructing learning through the process. Curiosity is a great motivator in early childhood and primary learning and one which many teachers and schools value and nurture.
    The issues identified by Tim do create blocks for some schools but there are ways to engage parent communities to embrace the learning methods and styles within a school and increased student engagement and sharing of learning (including measurements) goes a long way towards creating a cohesive triadic partnership.
    There is hope … it can be done … don’t lose the faith!
    Test your ideas, learn what is needed to make it work and teach the new way to your community =)

    1. Always wonderful to have your words of wisdom here Jane – thank you. Even more delicious is the idea some schools are taking the latter approach and that there are also solutions to the hurdles they face… hope / faith / ideas – love it :-)

    2. I have to agree with both DK’s musings and Jane’s comments. I think there is a lot of this model happening in early childhood and primary schools, but the constraints of exam-based learning and box-ticking for secondary teachers means that this model often goes out the window.

  3. From a non-educator point of view, I think you’re on totally the right track. The learn first philosophy encourages people to think why something shouldn’t work, rather than thinking creatively to find solutions.

    Would we have had Einstein if he’d not have been encouraged to solve problems?

  4. There is an educational paradigm out there that is close to your ideal formula: Education = Assess + Guide + Learn. Repeat.

    This is what drove me to teach in the Montessori environment vs. the public system. Good stuff, DK!

  5. Hi DK,
    I am so grateful to @Allanahk for directing me back to this great read. I love the concept of flipping the learning around so we are driven by a desire to collaborate, solve, challenge and learn!
    I am not a big fan of PAT tests but know that they serve a purpose. After reading your post I flipped it around and used the test to learn then teach. The value of the learning in collaborative discussion and reaching consensus is HUGE! After collaboratively solving the questions yesterday, today we celebrated where we had achieved success and closed a lot of gaps in our learning. Now we can move on to teach and close more gaps. Powerful learning indeed!
    I blogged about it here –
    …and my learners are reflecting on the benefits of this here…
    Thanks DK for the inspiration!
    Anne K

    1. Fantastic to hear from you and delighted to read / see you doing the hard running with the idea… created a warm feeling in my chest – thank you!

      This made me smile, hard:

      “After collaboratively solving the questions yesterday, today we celebrated where we had achieved success and closed a lot of gaps in our learning. Now we can move on to teach and close more gaps.”

      Fascinated by the process of seeding thoughts and seeing them transpire into action… deep appreciation for running with it!

      1. Oh, that is very good for my soul! Thanks for the inspiration and your very kind response! I am in awe of these words from one of my learners posted on the blog today…

        “To see what I got wrong was marvellous because I learn from my mistakes.”

        Followed up by comment on her blog post from her mum…

        “I am very proud of your effort. To learn from our mistakes is important in life! Love Mum”

        Life is very good!!!
        Thanks DK

  6. Hi DK,
    Great to hear/read points of view which offer a challenge about the delivery of school curriculums.
    Do you think that Plato maybe responsible for this engrained approach? Would be interested to hear your thinkings or musings about this comment.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *