Recently, my younger brother was having problems with the education system. His grades weren’t as good as they used to be, teachers and his classmates are mean to him, subjects are dry, hard and irrelevant, so he’s discouraged and wants to quit. Obviously, my nerve-stricken mom called me and I have to talk him out of it.
Basically, I lied to him about how it would be easier for him to get a job if he continues to get his head down and start studying, instead of complaining about the dry and seemingly useless subjects. I lied because I hate schools with a passion. After 16 years in the education system, it’s safe to say I’ve forgotten about 80% of what has been taught to me, and I don’t regret a thing about it.
It wasn’t what they taught me that got me jobs in the past. I got good at English because of YouTube, MangaFox and video games, not because of lessons in the English textbook at school. I got a job in a managerial position because of the leadership I demonstrated as a subordinate to that managerial position, not because of my grades at school. Most of what they taught in school was useless to me as a working professional.
Tracing back to the beginning of the current education system, these were the words of Horace Mann, arguably the father of the public school as we know it:
“Building a person’s character was just as important as reading, writing and arithmetic. By instilling values such as obedience to authority, promptness in attendance, and organizing the time according to bell ringing helped students prepare for future employment.”
It’s clear that the goal of the education system was not to teach kids how to lead, to dream or to solve real-life problems. It was to follow, to be obedient, to not be special and to be the ideal factory worker. The industrialists supported this idea because they were in need of a huge amount of compliant workers, and the government supported it because a population full of followers who are scared of authority is easier to control.
Not only the education system is obsolete in nowadays’ economy, it’s also wildly expensive. The US taxpayers spent a trillion dollars a year on education, especially in higher education. However, its effects are minimal. In fact, in his study, Jake Halpern discovered that, when asked if they want to be (1) a CEO of a big company like General Motors, (2) a Navy SEAL, (3) a US Senator, (4) the president of a great university like Harvard or Yale, or (5) the assistant of someone famous when they grow up, a staggering 43.4 percent of highschoolers he asked say they want to be (5) an assistant to a star.
Are we spending trillions upon trillions of dollar every year, not to produce leaders, but assistants to said leaders? With no-one to lead, who will our massive population of assistants assist?
The internet is changing our economy, our culture and our lives every day. In this new economy, we do not need that many compliant workers anymore. What we need in this day and age are leaders, artists, entrepreneurs, problem solvers. However, our education system’s aim was never to produce any of those. Shall we keep sticking with it or shall we revolutionize it, just like what we’ve done with mass media, transportation and communication?
I guess the end to this story of my rebellious brother can be considered a good one. He negotiated a compromise with my mother. He will try his best to slog through his last year of the 12th grade, but after that, he’ll pursue an online education of his own. I’m just glad he won’t have to waste 16 years of his life in the broken education system like I did.