What’s wrong with education?

In an earlier post – The American Caste System – I stated that there are many things wrong with the current education system and that there were too many things to put into a single post.

This follow-up post highlights how our education system stifles creativity with standardized testing, and how the rules in place are completely out of line with reality.

Test taking is a great example.  In school, you are told not to copy, not to speak with anyone else, and not to use any books, computers or the internet.  But when was the last time that you were given a work task under those conditions in the real world? 

I am willing to bet the answer would be never – not only that, but you would be told to find people who had done this before, and use all the resources available to find the answer.  And you would be rewarded for collaborating in this fashion.

I would prefer that during tests students have access to all the resources available, but the tests were then made much harder – focusing on the students’ ability to digest information and make sense of it, come up with new ideas, and find solutions.  Instead, we are feeding our kids lies and misinformation (usually in the form that there is only one right answer) and, in the process, crushing their creativity and their ability to think outside the box.

While researching this post, I came across the video below and realized that Sir Ken Robinson had, once again, done a better job of summarizing the situation than I could ever do.

I was particularly struck by his statement that, based on some tests, 98% of kindergarten kids rate in the genius level and that this declines over time.  This is backed up by the observances of Peter Skillman with his “Marshmallow Challenge” which gives similar insights, and if that isn’t a sign that our education system is failing our kids then I don’t know what is.

So, in the spirit of using all the resources available, I will just leave you in the capable hands of Sir Ken Robinson.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.



Filed under Career, Children, Education, Life - or something like it, Technology, The Human Condition

9 responses to “What’s wrong with education?

  1. Interesting post, Barry…speaking from my own experience, I think I was far more creative at age 11 than I am now…

    I’ve passed the link to your post on to one of my teacher/blogger buddies, Clay Morgan (Educlaytion)…


  2. I think I was more creative then too. I have to remember to listen to my kids when working on things with them – sometimes they come up with the most amazing ideas.

    I came across a very interesting Ted talk today about the Khan Academy – very interesting take on how to change education into something that is self paced. I think I am going to try some of his videos with my kids – they have over 2,000 of them covering many subjects.

  3. Loved this and friends and I have spent a great deal of time discussing it…a blog you might enjoy is Taking the lid of the Sun. http://www.takingthelidoffthesun.com/ it is written by a friend of mine.

    Education needs to change–even for those of us that chose alternative education for our kids in our case a Waldorf Private School.

    By the way I worked with some service dogs trained to assist autistic children this past week and the bond between the service dogs and their young owners and families were eye filling.

    • Thanks Katybeth,

      It’s a subject for constant debate in my household. I have 3 kids, all very different, and I just don’t feel that the one-size-fits-all education is working. For some it is great – for others, not so much.

      I left school when I was 16, and went back much later to complete my degree. Honestly I think I was better off for it because I continued to learn, but at my own pace and in my own way. When I did go back I achieved a 4.0 GPA which I know I would NEVER have achieved in my youth.

      I’ll definitely take a look at that blog when I get a moment.

  4. Great thoughts Barry. I have been going around with this issue for a long time myself and am constantly trying to come up with better ways to do things. I agree with you about the real world model vs. what we teach. Tough sell to do it the way you suggest but change is always met with resistance.

    • Thanks for the comment.
      I never said it would be easy. But I can’t help but feel that with today’s technology it should be possible for all students to learn at their own pace and in ways that suit them. 50 years from now people will be looking back and saying “Can you believe how they used to teach people, how archaic!”

      A quote comes to mind.

      “And it ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new.” Machiavelli 1505

  5. John Codman III


    This is great stuff. Thanks for sharing.



  6. Pingback: An educational revolution | Multum in Parvo

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