Education has been constrained over the last few decades to simply mean school. It’s a series of levels that need to be reached until all the basic requirements have been reached, just like a video game. This educational paradigm isn’t only not useful, but counterproductive as well. Here I will argue why that is true and offer alternatives to our current education system.
The first question is, “What is wrong with what we have?” The answer: a lot. History is not a subject to simply memorize, rather one that should be analyzed. Sure, people should know certain events and dates, but we should know the effect of an event and what lead to it. Knowing that is how we do not repeat history and actually learn from it. Simply knowing the year an empire fell does not help an empire today, but knowing why and how it fell does.
Sitting and being drilled with knowledge for seven or eight hours a day does actually build knowledge in the basic reading, writing, and arithmetic. Sitting around for that time sharing emotions or discussing how a book makes us feel does not teach anything other than disdain for educational institutions. To maintain interest and actually spread knowledge, teachers must give students the tools to learn followed by the opportunity to discover for themselves.
The education system is simply turned upside down. It leaves behind those who need it most by expecting less of them. It stifles creative minds by boxing them into the bounds they call curriculum. It demotivates its brightest by requiring enough to keep them busy, but not challenging their mind to expand. So what is the solution?
Well, I’m no policy expert, so I can’t fix the school system. However, I can say what I find to be useful in continuing my education. There’s a few things I utilize: experience, books, internet, and personal wisdom. These are the keys to understanding what is being taught and framing it in a way that it can be used to improve your life.
Hold fast to your experiences and reflect on them. It is by paying attention to the happenings in our lives that we learn firsthand and in a deeply personal way. It’s like the old saying, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice shame on me.” Business classes even teach heuristic knowledge to students because the best source of business knowledge is wisdom. The same is true for all industries, whether or not they wish to admit it.
Books are not dead. If you don’t like buying actual books like me, audiobooks and eBooks will do the trick as well. The trick here is to learn how to dive deep into a topic or a story, whatever you decide to read. The point is to read, and read different genres and authors.
Personally, I have a reading system. I have 2 books on my nightstand, the Bible and a nonfiction (usually philosophical, political, or economical). I read about a chapter of the Bible each day and a few pages of my other book. I have another one in the bathroom that is normally a lighter read like fiction or fluff information. Lastly, I keep a book in my backpack for school (usually one that would make me look smart).
By rotating through them, I don’t get tired of reading because I am inching through the information of each one. This fixes my problem of getting burnt out on reading. I had the habit for a long time of committing to reading, then losing interest in a book about halfway through, but now I can put a book down and read another so I stave off the burnout.
The internet is a fantastic source of information. YouTube can teach anyone about anything. People use content as marketing, so they give away knowledge and insights to pull people into their sphere of influence. Not only all that, you can find information on anything from anywhere and anytime with a few mouse clicks.
There is what seems to be an infinite store of knowledge for us to access, and we can do it with a computer that we carry in our pockets. Use Twitter and Facebook to keep you updated on the goings-on of our world. Then, research the topics right then and there if you must so you know what’s happening and can frame current events with historical perspective. I don’t have to tell you about the wonder of the internet if you’re reading this, though. I think that would be an indicator you got this contraption figured out.
Last, listen to people who know what the hell they’re talking about. Your grandparents and parents are great resources for wisdom and knowledge. The leaders of your industry have an incredible understanding of how to navigate it, learn from them. Teachers and professors have more to offer than just the book lecture, ask them beyond what the book says. Your boss made his way to that position, and he can tell you how to as well.
There’s so many ways to learn and grow beyond what school has to offer. I wish someone told me that school wasn’t going to prepare me for life the way I thought it would, and maybe I would be better off now. Luckily, I found this out at a young age still. Hopefully, some people read this and make the change. Like Albert Einstein said, “Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.” So, if you’re here and have a pulse, don’t stop learning anyway you can.
Thanks for coming to the Conversation of Our Generation! I thank you for your support. Bring your comments and questions. Share this with friends and family. Talk about these ideas. Let’s get the dialogue going!