I’ve been thinking about the education system recently – and mostly about what is wrong with it. After jotting down some notes it became obvious that there is too much material to cover in a single blog post, so I will spread this one out.
First, let me start out by saying I am a huge fan of education. I believe education should be a lifelong pursuit that does not stop with the acquisition of a diploma or the landing of that first job.
Properly structured, education expands minds and pushes people out of their comfort zones, forcing them to learn about the world as a whole, and not just a tiny subset. In addition to the usual suspects of math and reading, classes that involve the arts (music, literature, drama etc.) and those that develop critical thinking through face to face dialog and debate should be mandatory in any general education.
But education also needs to be met by each person on his/her own terms. University and college isn’t for everyone, and there will always be people for whom college just doesn’t fit right – like shoes pinching at the toes. Some people just learn more effectively in different environments, and we should not stifle their dreams by forcing them to do things the same old ways.
Unfortunately society (or at least Western society) doesn’t seem to agree with me.
The world of education is changing rapidly. Where once these “institutes of higher learning” had a monopoly on information we now find ourselves in a world where virtually unlimited knowledge is never further away than your phone.
Given this quantum shift in knowledge availability, it would be reasonable to expect that the existing education system would be rapidly changing to mine these new resources. But instead of leading the charge we find that the existing educational establishments are not even keeping pace – how can this be?
There are many answers, ranging from ignorance to profit margins. But here I want talk about something more subtle, and far more sinister – education (or the lack of it) is a tool for keeping people in their place. These techniques have been used around the world for centuries, and against all kinds of people: Slaves, Women, Blacks, etc.
The status quo today mandates that most good jobs require a diploma and, as long as that situation exists, the colleges are able to make substantial sums of money supplying those bits of paper. To get that coveted prize you must play by their rules, which include steep tuition feeds and expensive (and heavy!) textbooks.
But let’s be honest with ourselves and admit that, as a whole, we like it that way. These expensive diplomas help keep the ‘riff-raff’ out, and effectively create a caste system – ensuring that the higher-paying jobs are reserved for those who can afford those hefty school fees in the first place. This creates a catch-22, and thus ensures that there are plenty of people to handle the low paying, menial jobs that most of us would not want to do.
I don’t think most people actually think of it that way, but deep down we would all prefer to compete against fewer people. The good news is that the current education system provides a handy way to separate “The Haves” from the “Have Nots” without tweaking our social conscience. Obviously they have lower paying jobs because they are not educated! Q.E.D.
Unfortunately for The Haves, the Internet is spoiling this game. Now people can educate themselves to almost any level for free. And freed from the restrictions of the standard educational system, these outlaw students can tailor their education to where they have talent and passion – a deadly combination that can eventually lead them to create revolutionary products and services that leave the rest of us in the dust.
As one of the people who started in a lower caste (I left school at sixteen) there is a part of me that cheers this revolution and the feeling of justice it brings. Surely any intelligent, hardworking person should be able to compete on equal terms…That’s part of the American Dream, right?
But having now spent the money to get my degree, there is part of me that says “…as long as it doesn’t affect me and my family.” It’s tough being a rebel when it puts my livelihood at risk.
Are we educating people because they need those skills, or to separate them from the rest of the herd? Should we give accreditation to anyone who can prove their intelligence, without requiring a college or university being involved, or should we protect what we have? Do we even need college education at all beyond areas such as medicine and law?
Go ahead and vote – it’s anonymous, so be completely honest!
- The Case Against College Education (time.com)