Tweaking the educational system to benefit the greater world

By Natalie Krivas, M.Ed., CPP

Student Natalie Krivas, M.Ed., CPP, sees a way forward for education in America and beyond.

natalie krivas 2I love the classroom—the way I can see the immediate impact lessons have on students and know that I’m making a difference. Especially teaching English as a second language (ESL), I can control what I teach my students and incorporate a social justice-oriented approach into my lessons.

What made me want to get my Ph.D. in Managing Organizational Systems at Saybrook University was my desire to have a systemic effect on education. I believe that if education were to be tweaked in just the slightest way, it could have a sustainable impact on all aspects of our planet. And even though it takes me outside of the classroom, I feel a duty to use my skills and passion to affect change at the systemic level.

By learning at the system level, you have a much higher level of understanding of what’s going on. It doesn’t mean that you can’t affect things on the ground, but it puts you in a position of empowerment of making tangible change.

One way to this empowerment is by bringing education into the 21st century. I see five potential paths forward, based on my own experiences and knowledge.

  1. Encouraging equity in literacy.

    I’ve studied critical pedagogy a lot. Paulo Freire was an innovator when it came to looking at how education and schooling can be used as a form of oppression and marginalize minorities. I did a lot of research and became interested in this when I was an undergrad, but then focused on it more in my master’s studying Humane Education. What I’ve learned and experienced in my education is that if we provide equitable access for literacy, and I don’t just mean examining media, it helps with all facets of students’ life—specifically aiding their critical thinking abilities.
  2. Teaching critical thinking.

    If we can teach students how to distinguish purpose versus audience, they will be able to look at anything and determine for themselves whether something is evidence-based or not. Too often we rely on other subjects to passively teach critical thinking—but that shouldn’t be the case! For me, I think that is the number one barrier that students are faced with in their learning. When students don’t automatically believe what they read or hear—even from a teacher—they can make judgments for themselves. They have the skills to listen to a person critically and to question, “Well, if they make a claim, where does that come from?” We need to give students the skills and resources to look at the world critically.
  3. Cultivating compassion and connection.

    Having a sense of compassion and connection is incredibly important. Education allows us to connect with the world. By learning someone’s story, we connect by relating to and developing our compassion for them. By spending time outdoors, we connect to nature and its inhabitants, which strengthens our desire to protect it. By connecting to each other, we strengthen our relations, our compassion, and our desire to collaborate and support each other. We develop compassion for all people. It could be something as extreme as a protestor who was assassinated for standing up for human rights or your neighbor who’s living in a domestic abuse situation. Or it could be less drastic, everyday situations that we all live through: commuting, working, and going to the store. Developing that compassion is how we can look at the world critically and motivate ourselves to find solutions.
  4. Changing subject content.

    To develop compassion, we must make the subjects we teach meaningful—to fully bring it to the 21st century. We have to look at real-world situations and issues and critically think about how interconnected they are, by looking at and understanding the wider system that exists that perpetuates these issues. In that, we develop our own compassion for all stakeholders affected by these issues that larger systems perpetuate.
  5. Developing positive solution thinking.

    It’s easy to feel paralyzed when faced with complex, present-day issues. Take the assassinated protestor example. You may think, “What can I do here where I live? How does that affect me? What am I supposed to do?” There’s a lot of talk about what’s going on in the world, but without action, it simply breeds apathy. The distance between us and the rest of the world is growing. Education allows a meaningful, tangible way to bridge the gap.

Discover the ways that Saybrook University can help you create systematic change. If you are interested in learning more about Saybrook’s programs, fill out the form below to request more information.