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Should You Go To School? (Modern Education Issues)

Crossroad

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;

Option A

I quit school (age 19) and focus me 100% of the time on my passion.

Option B

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.

Critical

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.

education-success

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 ;))

Responsibility

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.

education-add

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.

Schooling

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.

education-equality

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.

Education

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
education-definition

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;

Essence

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.
Take care!

Love

Simon

Sources
http://thoughtcatalog.com/diana-sz/2013/11/this-is-whats-wrong-with-the-education-system/

 

 

Tags : analysiscriticalDreamseducationfulfillmentHappiness & InspirationPurposeschooling

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12 Comments

  1. Hey Simon! Hope you read this. Maybe you could reply here as it’ll be easier to read.

    I’ve been thinking about what you wrote and found this again. It sounds like you’ve decided to leave school and start a business. Hope it goes well! :)

    I’m currently in my 2nd year now of Games Development. I’m definitely finding it a lot more interesting because I can see the usefulness and practicality of it.
    I was recently watching a show on BBC iPlayer about the progression in technology. http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b06cn1wv/panorama-could-a-robot-do-my-job

    Currently google are already working on creating driverless cars. Imagine in 10-20 years when they actually start existing. A lot of jobs will disappear – bus drivers, taxis, delivery drivers, lorries etc.

    But that means a lot of people will become unemployed. At the same time a lot of new jobs will appear – especially in the technology sector. But what are we doing about that? Currently, at school it’s still not mandatory to learn how to code; which I imagine in 10-20 years will be as essential as maths. Yet learning algebra is which is only used in a few select jobs.

    In my opinion, schools should be a lot more focused on the practical side – and maybe even get rid of exams entirely because that’s just testing knowledge when in the past school is all you would have to learn.

    So for example, you could have a class in web development. That class would be entirely assessed on how well you can create your website.
    It would be the same with a lot of subjects and would be much more useful in my opinion than exams.

    Another thing I was thinking was what will happen to all those people who lose their jobs? Simply living off benefits because they can’t find another job isn’t helpful.
    l think governments should be focusing on retraining people to learn coding – otherwise I imagine we’ll end up in a similar position, or even worse where a lot of 30-40+ people don’t know how to code and can’t get a job. I think the government should start a fund, giving money (maybe a £100 a week, but obviously it can’t afford to give that to every single person) to people so that instead of working somewhere like McDonalds and learning useless skills, they can spend their time learning useful skills.

    Hope you read this mate and let me know what you think.

    Hope to hear from you soon,

    Ollie

    1. It sounds like you’ve decided to leave school and start a business

      No, I haven’t. I’ve decided to continue my education and finish it off and build up some valuable skills in my free time (web development). The business is currently on hold but I’m looking to pick it back up after I’ve gotten the required paperwork done( November).

      Currently google are already working on creating driverless cars.

      I’ve watched a documentary a year or so ago. We already got those.

      In my opinion, schools should be a lot more focused on the practical

      School is desperately overdue for a huge makeover. The factory system was maybe useful in the industrial age where they just needed loyal, obedient workers who could do what they were told without asking questions. And for a while that actually worked out very well. But in these rapid, evolving times it’s simply impossible to thrive in a job where there’s someone who tells you exactly what to do.

      The school system (imo) gives an inaccurate representation of reality. It prepares students for a time that’s already behind us.

      l think governments should be focusing on retraining people to learn coding

      Agree – don’t think it’s going to happen though. I think everyone is responsible for their own future and needs to take some measurements to improve their own situation.

      If not – they’ll be left behind.

      Technological know-how will be indispensable.

       

    1. I agree.

      Games simulate the environment where learning started, during motion and hunts.

      A game can be tailored to be perfectly challenging, with the game reading the player’s skill and MO and adapting to it. Some gratifications are easy and instant and others need more investment.

      The longer a game progresses, the more long term the challenges can be – just as in any game. The difference is that here you’ll learn calculus, e.g., rather than finetuning exactly how to wipe out a ‘boss’ and get to the next level.

    2. I respectfully disagree.

      I believe meaningful education requires human interaction and that’s also a key component of keeping students involved in the learning process.

      I also believe that there are variables in creating a business which cannot be simulated perfectly like people management for example. (but I can’t really know for sure since I don’t own a business)

      And from what I value in life I think no-one should spend more time in front of a screen – there’s enough of that as it is IMO

      But didn’t know this existed – thanks for the insight.

  2. Deep, dark and a lot to absorb

    Today’s school is obsolete and stems from a time when even basic facts were hard to come by. You learned them (exclusively) at school and an exam was proof of both knowledge and stamina.

    Now, information, data and instructions are ubiquitous, everywhere, and almost for free. An exam will soon be unnecessary, even an expensive waste of time; you’ll be worth what you can create with what you actually know or know how to find out, not what your exam says.

    You can’t even be sure to find work with a good exam. You need contacts, luck, ambition, interest. I think most people would be better off skipping school once they can read and write and then learn everything else by themselves, including entrepreneurship.Get by doing odd jobs for five years instead and THEN do something with really worthwhile input/output ratio. Remember that will leave you with zero debt.

    1. Great insights Mikael,

      Totally agree on what you said.

      “I think most people would be better off skipping school once they can read and write and then learn everything else by themselves” – like that statement.

      Did you finish your schooling?

      1. Well, actually, yes, I did finish school. I have a masters degree in Financial Economics from a prestigious university (Stockholm School of Economics). I studied 1990-94 which in my opinion was about the last few years you could get away with simply studying a set programme with out a particular target or ambition.

  3. Hi Simon.

    Interesting post. It makes me think why do we go to school and why we get taught certain subjects.. You’ve made a lot of points about what’s wrong with school. I’m currently at university studying computer games programming, and some of the things I learn are interesting and some are boring. But I still study them. Why? I study them because to me, school is learning as much as you can about as much as you can. That’s why we go to school. Yes, it is similar to a sausage factory where all we want is perfect students who get perfect grades, but I don’t know a single school like that.

    I was reading your 3rd quarterly review where you said you’ve read 10 books. All of them seem like self-help books. I think that’s great! But why stop yourself there? Why not learn more? For example you were reading the 48 laws of power which you said you didn’t like because the laws were amoral. I was reading that book too, and while it has definitely got amoral laws, it’s still interesting, especially the amount of history in it. Of course, if you are just interested in self-development then it won’t be for you.

    From my experience with self-help books, they are useful but they don’t take you from point a to point b. In fact they do the opposite because you spend money on them but what do you get from your investment? Where are you going to go? What are you going to achieve?

    Life definitely not just about getting a good job, making money and learning as much as you can about as much as you can. It’s about “aking pride in whatever you’re doing, having compassion, sharing ideas, running(!), being enthusiastic. And then there’s love, and travel, and wine, and sex, and art, and kids, and giving, and mountain climbing … but you know all that stuff already”.

    That quote is from here: http://www.timminchin.com/2013/09/25/occasional-address/

    It’s this great post which explains life about as well as I’ve seen anyone explain it. It’s quite long and I suggest you watch the youtube video in the link first, but I think it’s really good and highly recommend it! Really hope you like it.

    Ollie

    1. Hey Oliver, thanks for commenting man,

      I can see where you’re coming from, although I recognize we probably have different beliefs about schooling.

      “For me school is learning as much as you can about as much as you can”

      I don’t agree with that statement. Nor do I see the usefulness in general knowledge if it’s not applicable in the direction you’ve chosen for yourself (besides relaxation purposes maybe)

      School, for me is about creating workers that “fit in” to society so they can generate money for the government in my eyes. They’re not taking into accounts our individual strengths, interest, values or way of performing. That’s exactly why so many people perform poorly in their chosen job IMO.

      Anyway, that’s what I’ve grown to see over the past years and therefore my investment in my schooling is very low. Which in turn lowers my engagement.

      Self-development books are in my eyes: “any non-fiction books that allows you to improve yourself in area of your life.” I dedicate all my recent progress to similar books and have found them to be highly practical. I do however have a broader interest (Really like astrology & dinosaurs), but as I said, these aren’t as applicable to my life atm IMO

      “From my experience with self-help books, they are useful but they don’t take you from point a to point b. In fact they do the opposite because you spend money on them but what do you get from your investment? Where are you going to go? What are you going to achieve?”

      From my experience they’ve taken me from a weak, asocial, video game addict (point A) into what I am now (point B). I contribute these “improvements” mainly to self-help books and not to my formal schooling.

      I also don’t believe that by neglecting my schooling in favor of my education I’ll be less successful. I do however should have a backup plan if things turn south.

      I agree on most points Tim makes in his speech. Great use of words (had to put on subtitles to understand it fully)

      Thanks for sharing that speech, bookmarked it ;)

      Love these comments man,

      Anyway, take care!

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    1. – Thanks man! That really means a lot to me.
      I’m definitely going to keep writing about the things that
      are important to me!
      – The theme is use, is free and is called the “leaf” theme.
      You can download it here –> http://wordpress.org/themes/leaf
      or just find it trough your dashboard.
      Anyway, take care!

      Simon

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