The Greater Problem with Education

The Greater Problem with Education: A Revelation (2)

The Greater Problem with Education: A Revelation (2)

In a previous post, I wrote about the 2- sigma problem in education but I today, I am here to ask the question – what if that is not the major problem with our educational system? what then is the greater problem with education?

The 2 sigma problem focuses a lot on the academic performance of the learners in school with little or no attention to the performance of the learners after school. I know the next argument will be that a child that does well in school is going to do well in real life. Maybe some 50 years ago, I would have agreed but it is absolutely not the case today. 

We have been trained to believe that the route to success is by going to school, doing excellently well and magically, you will be the most sorted in the real world. The first problem with this claim is that the school curriculum is not reversed engineered from the school of life. It does not prepare us for the game of life rather, it sets us up to chase after more schools or schooling which is why a lot of people today are in a vicious cycle of “maybe I do not know enough”. In Montessori terms as described by Mate Bateman the school should be a specially prepared environment that serves as a smooth ramp to the unprepared environment of life. 

Benjamin Bloom like many other passionate teachers want their children to do exceedingly well in their academics which of course is a good thing but a limited way of thinking about life on a grand scale. What this wish does is that we have students who will triumph in school only to come out to flunk at life. (I would prefer a student flunk in school and triumph at life)

Back to the school curriculum, they were not designed by people who have the right experience or understanding of what life beyond school looks like. According to an extract from the school of life website

“…they were intellectually influenced by all kinds of slightly random forces over hundreds of years of evolution – shaped by, among other things, the curricula of Medieval monasteries, the ideas of some 19th-century German educationalists and the concerns of aristocratic court societies.”

This lack of understanding and knowledge suggests that the school teaches us to be what they want us to be. They have successfully defined what success means for us by laying exceptional emphasis on superior academic performance noting that it is the gateway to getting a good job which consequently is the definition of a successful life. 

We have surreal evidence that school is not necessarily a pathway to success in life as there are thousands of people who have gone ahead to do well in life without having a degree whatsoever. Now, this is not to discourage you from going to school neither is it a claim that the school is a scam as naïve people purportedly label it so. Rather, it is a nudge that something has to be done

I have always wondered why we spend about 20+ years of our lives in school only to come into life extremely clueless. We see educated people commit suicide or getting depressed because they made a bad finacial or marital decison, couldn’t get a job, etc. Why should a person spend so many years in school only to be stuck? The answer is simple – the school failed to prepare us for life.  

They brought the subjects to us, they forced the topics on us, they set exams to measure us, they told us for 20+ years what to do and how to do it. We never had the opportunity to explore, to think, to solve life problems, to build – skills needed to survive in the real world. 

They rather scared us to avoid originality, to wait, to seek permission, to follow. Then they set us into the real world seeking such an environment – a job that would carry on what the school has programmed in us. This is the greater problem with education

Education Historian, Lawrence Cremin noted that according to Horace Mann who is regarded as the father of education, his goal was not to increase the number of exceptional students but to increase the number of people with enough basic learning skills to participate in self government.

“Throughout [Mann] was concerned with the greatest general proficiency of average students. Thus it was never the remarkable progress of a few which captured his attention but, rather, the more general progress of all.”

Education is wholesome and it is not demeaning. It is like an investment where you are expected to become way better after years. It is therefore a crime to go to school only to come out to be average. We need an alternate schooling experience.  

I have come to accept the fact that there are two types of education

  1. Education to get a job: here, you go to school to earn a degree so that you can get a job. This is what the traditional school is set up to do. 
  2. Education to live a meaningful life; here, you go to school to learn to live life on your terms. How to think, build and solve problems. We need an alternate school to achieve this. 

By alternate, I do not suggest a replacement of the current school system (however, there must be an improvement) rather, I suggest another schooling experience that run concurrently but with a different objective

to be continued…

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