Education: What’s the point?

From the beginning of time there has always been an educational system. We are learning animals and therefore we have always learned. Life itself is often the greatest teacher, but as we have progressed as a society we have developed further methods of learning, training, and thought.

The argument today is that our schooling system is poorly equipped to teach the next generation adequately. For the purpose of having a foundation to stand upon, I would like to make the argument that the schooling system of today is “overly equipped” to teach subjects that may or may not be useful to someone in today’s society.

For the sake of having a large foundation to stand on for the rest of education week I would like to also point out a few things about myself when it comes to education…

  1. I have never been a full-time teacher, although I plan on taking a more active role in teaching as I get older.
  2. I have spent significant time tutoring kids in various subjects.
  3. I have also spent a lot of time training employees to perform their given tasks better.
  4. I spent a couple summers as a camp counselor where I used games to teach kids about leadership and teamwork.
  5. I have spent a grand total of 20 years in the educational system. Preschool, Kindergarten, 1st through 12th grade, 4 years in college to receive my Bachelors degree, and 2 years in graduate school to receive my Master’s degree.
  6. I have always studied books on my own, and have a rather large personal library.
  7. I have went through quite a few training programs at different companies.

I have spent nearly my entire life learning and teaching. I have been a student and a teacher. I have been an employee and a manager/trainer. I have a lot of experience to draw from.

“I can teach anybody how to get what they want out of life. The problem is I can’t find anybody who can tell me what they want.” – Mark Twain

I have made it to about the same point as Mark Twain was when he penned this line. I think my biggest philosophy here is that if you know what you want, you can always find a way to get there.

And I guess maybe that is the biggest problem with education. It trains you in subjects which may be of no use to you. Then again, maybe that is a good thing because it helps you become a “well-rounded individual” and that ultimately will help you discover what you would like to do with your time here on Earth.

The other problem and great thing about school is that it gives much needed structure to young people. Who knows what trouble young people would find themselves in without school? On the flip side, who knows how much school is stifling their dreams and aspirations because it is too structured. To use another contradiction, I would say that schools aren’t structured enough.

How can I say that schools are “overly equipped” and “not structured enough” in the same article? Well, that is just my perspective, but let me tell you why it is so…

The idea of a school with a teacher, and their class, is brilliantly efficient. You can give the majority of your country or society an education this way. Presumably, the whole country benefits when people are universally educated.

Previously, education came from parents who may not have been educated themselves. Or if you could afford it, you got a private tutor to teach a certain subject or to give an overall education. Yet the schools of today have come to a point where they are overly equipped to teach many subjects. It is amazing just how much they can teach a child in their course of getting an education. What is equally amazing is how much kids don’t learn over this same period of time. In other words, teaching does not equal learning.

Schools have gone so far, but not far enough. The way I see it schools need to be more structured. By more structured I envision a school system that runs more like a business.

Colleges and universities have mostly learned this lesson. They cater to students as customers. You want to take a class in underwater basket weaving? Sure, you can take it. You don’t want to do any work and fail out of school? Sure, you can do that too!

This is more like real life. This is what most of our school system should be like. However, there is this pervasive idea that kids, as opposed to adults, can’t make adult like decisions until they turn a certain age. Although I am opposed to this idea, there is some validity to this argument.

A child that drops out of school often resorts to a life of crime. There is no work for him or her because of child labor laws. Parents don’t know what to do with them because they have to go to work themselves to support their family. This is all a change that was necessitated by a change in society.

In history you often see education and work both take place at home. A child would learn from their parents and often do the same work as their parents. There was no need for an education system beyond the family. If a child wanted to do something besides the family business there was often another family member or family friend that they could be apprenticed to. People learned their life’s calling by living life. If they wanted to pursue a certain life bad enough then they found a way.

Flash back to today. Children are directionless. They have been forced to spend most of their waking hours in an artificial reality called school. It is the great privilege of modern society, and yet it comes with other considerations, both good and bad.

What’s the point? My point is that education would be even more effective if it was allowed to become more structured like a business. Give kids more choices in the classes they will take. Help them develop a personalized curriculum. Give kids more chances to practice more real world skills and not just “learn” them.

For goodness sake, teach them more about money and work, and less about calculus and 19th century literature. Still keep those options open for those that want it, but help kids practice more things they will encounter in real life, and less that they won’t encounter.

This week is dedicated to talking about education. The goal is to get people thinking about education and to create a discussion about how we can improve it. Please leave your thoughts in the comment section and also subcribe using the link below so you won’t miss a thing. ๐Ÿ˜‰

10 thoughts on “Education: What’s the point?”

  1. The school system sadly creates well-rounded “individuals”, rather than well-rounded individuals, as there is little room for actual individuality in schools. For me, the problem was that I learned too quickly and they didn’t know what to do with me, so I got to tutor my peers or read fiction much of the time. I may have left school with top grades, but I hated going and often faked illness.

    I think that everyone should have access to schooling, but it should be, as you say, personalised. I’ve had the opportunity to work with a developmentally disabled girl (teenager with a mental range of a 3-7 year old) for whom I created such a personalised plan. But, that was just that one person, and it was a massive tragedy that she had already been forced through 8 years of schooling when school was obviously the LAST thing she needed. And she’s still getting 4 more years of schooling.

    Emma’s last blog post..3 things I learned about myself in a phone interview

  2. Hi Emma,

    I was a pretty quick study too but I flew under the radar. My teachers knew I got good grades. What they didn’t know was that I didn’t study at all. Thanks to a highly visual memory and a way with words I could easily take any test or write any paper with ease.

    It is a tragedy that we can’t be more accommodating in our school systems. Businesses can personalize things for their customers, why can’t schools? And I think the answer lies in the people who choose the profession, their way of thinking, and how hard it is to change a system that has been entrenched for a very long time.

    Cheers,
    Jeremy

  3. Jeremy,

    I make my living as a writer. The only class I ever failed in primary or secondary education was “Basic Paragraphs”. Also, I dug my heels in about noun/predicate/sentence structure. In my eighth grade mind, I felt that if I could read and write, what was the point? (Hehe. Still kinda feel that way)

    I sub teach in my local school district. It’s interesting to see how the mechanics work in terms of what gets taught. I could turn this into a very long comment, but we’ll just leave it at that.

    Very thought provoking post.

    George

    Tumblemoose’s last blog post..Sell your book, then go ahead and write it

  4. Hi Jeremy, there’s a huge amount packed into this post!

    About a year ago I read a book called ‘Teaching As A Subversive Activity’. There’s a lot of common ground with what you write. Especially around the curricula of most schools being horribly out of date with what kids will need to know to thrive in the world of today. They also advocate student centered methods of education. What teachers know is out of date and students (even young ones) are much better placed to know what they need to learn. The role of teacher then changes and is more about helping the student learn and attracting them to different subjects – rather than teaching. Most parents intuitively trust and follow the interests of their kids – teachers probably don’t because education has been largely taken over by governments and corporations with their own agendas.

    I found myself nodding in agreement as I turned each page of this book … when I finished I had a look to see when it was written. 1969! It’s disturbing that not much has changed in the last 40 years.

    I fully agree that topics such as managing personal finances, solving conflicts, forming and maintaining relationships (personal and professional) etc. etc. would be much better on the agendas of schools.

    Look forward to the rest of the series!

  5. Hi Jeremy,

    Some schools herd kids like sheep.There is to little time for individual help even if teachers and tutors are available.

    I have a girlfriend who is married with six and yes,I said six kids.She is a nurse works 2-3 days a week and home schools her children.

    This is because her and the hubby didn’t want them exposed to other kids.Other then the families they know.

    This is extreme but they have made it work for them when the time comes for testing the kids score above the ones who attend the public school.

    They round out socializing with church,youth groups and gym memberships.

    Did I mention the dad is a police officer:)

    Bunny got Blog’s last blog post..Agreeing To Disagree

  6. Hi,
    I’m glad you are addressing the issue. This is a thoughtful intelligent post. I have strong opinions on this issue. I will just give you one: No one can be forced to learn anything, therefore all learning is voluntary, which leads me to believe that forced/compulsory education will fail and must be replaced with a voluntary system. Yes, some kids will quit, some will choose not to volunteer to learn, but those same kids are failing today. But it will forever remove from the minds of parents and students that it is the school’s responsibility to teach, no, quite the contrary, it is the student’s responsibility to learn. It is the schools responsibility to make information available and provide a safe environment, the rest is up to the student.

    Steve Olson’s last blog post..How Much Money do you Need?

  7. @ Steve – Well thank you for taking the time to comment. I know many people have strong opinions on this issue and I want to create a forum for discussion. I am in total agreeance with what you said. No one can be forced to learn. I think a major goal of teachers should be to instill a love of learning in children. It’s a hard task and I think that is why many teachers don’t even try. But you are right, student’s have a responsibility to learn if they want to accomplish anything in this life. I look forward to reading some more of your comments.

    @ Bunny – I think this is a good setup and it sounds like that family has a lot of traditional values to go on. Im sure their kids will do just fine for themselves.

    @ Ian – Wow, sounds like a book I would love reading. I like the phrase “student centered education” Its a good way to put what I am talking about.

    @ George – I highly encourage you to write your longer comment! I am really interested in everyone’s thoughts. I like your choice of the word “mechanics”. I think I would put it that way too. We can certainly come up with better mechanics for educating people.

    Cheers,
    Jeremy

  8. “For goodness sake, teach them more about money and work, and less about calculus and 19th century literature”

    Hey Jeremy, I agree with you strongly on this point. The current education system does not teach us anything much about money and this is a real issue that everyone got to deal with once they are out in the society. I believe there is too much theory based knowledge that is taught in school and it will be great if they can incorporate more practical trainings.

    Cheers
    Vincent
    Personal Development Blogger

    Vincent’s last blog post..How To Achieve Success In Everything

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