A month or so ago I was at a crossroad in my life. I was pretty much ignoring my college education and paying a lot of attention towards my personal development (e.g. training, blogging, diet, reading, learning new skills and whatnot.)
I felt that the way I was being schooled wasn’t adding towards who I wanted to become. Although I’m learning some really relevant and interesting things at school (Yes! For real) we are however required to do some irrelevant assignments that aren’t really aligned with the goals I had set for myself. These tasks are mostly very time consuming and straight up boring. Time I would rather spend on more inspiring goals (like blogging for instance! :))
So I’ve made a choice to take some time off (I went to Londen for four days! àWhich was awesome, thanks for asking :D!) to really evaluate what is important to me and what direction I would like to go with my life. So basically, I had two choices;
I quit school (age 19) and focus me 100% of the time on my passion.
I continue my schooling, get my degree and start from there.
Both had their pros and their cons but because I hadn’t made a firm decision yet (until recently), I was neglecting my college schooling and my personal development. Because of my lack of direction I wasn’t investing in either of them. So I really needed to make a definitive decision to shape my life. After some time of heavy consideration, I chose to continue my schooling. And here are the reasons why I chose so;
Completing my schooling allows me to have more time to build up my life, educate myself more on the things I find important and overall get more life experience before I venture forth into the “real world”.
I believe I am also not knowledgeable, capable or credible enough to stand on my own feet already. Perhaps I wouldn’t even have had the discipline or knowledge necessary to educate myself further in my area of expertise.
Two more years really isn’t that bad if I can keep combining it with work that does inspire me!
By making this decision I’ve chosen to put more emphasis on my schooling (whilst working on my self-development. And I’m glad that I didn’t let it linger any longer.
So, I’ve been in school now for as long as I can
remember. I’ve battled my way through six years of math’s and sciences in high school conquering all evil exams that stood on my path. Needless to say I (I really, really didn’t like math) was glad when I finally left high-school.
My parents pretty much told me when I was twelve years old that it was the best decision to make and I believed them, because I didn’t really know any better at that time. All my friends were going there, it had a really nice playground and it didn’t seem like such a big step. Looking back now I’ve realized that a more practical schooling would’ve suited me better.
Although I’ve seen a benefit in my mental development from my schooling, I feel we need to reconsider the way we are educating children. Schooling has adopted a factory mentality over the years.
We insert our children (which are all unique) through the same standard curriculum so they can “fit into society.” We don’t keep their differences, interests, passions into account. One process, one product. I can pretty much conclude there are many education issues.
I believe there should be a better balance between analytical thinking and abstract thought. The thing that standard education provides is creating more people that can make a living instead of making individuals that can make a life.
We tell our kids that they have to work hard and save for retirement and eventually they’ll be rewarded, wasting their best years away to sacrifice for something illusive in the future. This is magnificently illustrated in a movie by Alan Watts.
He makes a beautiful analogy (IMO) with life and music. I believe you should never postpone your happiness, it is a must for any person to design a life of their dreams. (or at least have some really strong scotch ;))
Over the last couple of years I’ve met some really passionate teachers that loved to share their knowledge about this world. I could just tell they were inspired by the fire they had in their eyes. They made me drawn towards their wild tales and made me dream about the great things life could be.
But unfortunately these people are hard to find nowadays (insert sad-face.)
When I recently asked for the reasoning behind why we go to school and why we are taught certain subjects I got answers like “To get your degree”, “to pass my class” or “to get a good job”. Teachers even take an offence when you question their teachings.
I believe that many have lost the meaning of what a good education is really about; self-development of the individual to find their place in this world. If you do get an honest and deep reason behind why you are taught something, count yourself blessed because passionate teachers are a rare breed these days.
More often than not we blame others for our condition but truth be told, we have responsibility too. We wash our hands in innocence whilst we delegate the responsibility for educating our children to schools.
In this “age of distraction (e.g. television, video games, advertisements, technology,… .)’ we tell our children to focus on boring stuff, to take their Ritalin and be quiet.
This way they can function “properly” into society (or so we tell them.) We even dare to wonder why our children are so bored at school and hate their education that much. And then when we get a phone call late at night that our child is “unmanageable”, we start asking where we went wrong.
But we can’t really blame teacher or ourselves for making a wrong decision though. We all make wrong decisions because we were never taught how to make a right one. It’s up to us to inspire change by spreading what we believe in. I believe that truth will always prevail as long as there are enough people listening.
So basically, in my eyes schooling is doing many things wrong. Firstly, we focus too much on logical thinking. We tell children what to study instead of why that knowledge is actually important to them. What is the purpose of doing something if there is no reasoning behind it? More emphasis on why we are taught the things we learn and why these are so important would make a significant difference in student motivation levels.
Secondly, we also tend to treat everyone the same, not realizing we are all very different. Different interests, skills, passions and traits. But we pretty much just neglect that and try to force everyone trough the same curriculum.
You can argue that there is a lot of choice that supports individuality, especially these days. But the choices we get are rarely what we really love to do and we are even afraid to choose those options because we’re often told there is no “future” that way. I’m often told to “Be realistic” or “choose something that will bring me a lot of money”. And let me tell you that it is pretty damn difficult to go in direction B when everyone is sprinting towards A.
Lastly, we are in such a hurry to integrate people into the economic system. It’s like brainwashing children to believe that a job with a big salary will make them “successful” or “happy”.
Schooling focuses on turning children into workers whilst letting them believe that there will be a huge pay-off in the end. They then waste away the best years of their lives to fulfill somebody else’s pockets. Let me fast-forward a bit and tell you that that is not what you want. It is not what will make you happy.
Don’t take this the wrong way either. I’m not trying to totally degrade modern education. They do teach essential skills and basic knowledge like reading, writing, math, history, geography, biology, language, social skills and so-forth. But our focus should be altered dramatically in my opinion.
In my opinion schooling (and the rest of the world) has become lost from the true meaning of education. We get so caught up in running to an elusive finish that we never stop to really wonder “Am I going in the right direction?” The dictionary defines education as followed
I tend to disagree with the first part. In my eyes education is about the following;
- Education is knowledge. The ability to think critically and abstract so we can create self-supporting individuals.
- Education is curiosity. The eternal dream of what is and what can be.
- Education is excitement. To learn new, great ideas and express yourself creatively
- Education is growth. The expansion of the mind and possibilities of the individual.
- Education is life, because whatever doesn’t grow dies.
“When we force the growth of trees whilst denying it sunlight, it shall bear no fruit.”
So I’ve given quite a lot of critique now on what’s wrong and what’s right but haven’t really given an opinion on what would be a “great education” in my eyes.
I believe that schooling should be prioritizing personal growth by developing individual interests and skills. Focusing how they truly can be themselves and how they can share their passion/personal gift with the world (contribution). This is key to a happy and fulfilling life.
Another interesting video on this topic is this animation created by The RSA and is narrated by Sir Ken Robinson. It explains some key things that we need to change regarding to modern education. I’ve found it really informative and a must see. It has given me a great deal of inspiration to write this article;
This post has become a little bit “darker” than what I usually write about, this is because I have a strong emotional reaction to this topic and I truly feel it is really important for the generations to come.
Anyway, what do you take away from this post? My advice to you would be to be critical with the choices you make and realize the impact they have on your life. Don’t mistake schooling for education since education is much more complete than what we associate it with. Education never stops.
Take responsibility for the development of your children and your own life, educate yourself on what is important and live your life the way it was intended.
Anyway, I hope you’ve found this post insightful and if you have any thoughts or questions on this topic (or something random to say), feel free to share that in the comments below.