In a study of 1500 classrooms across the US, it was found that only 15% of the classrooms visited kept more than half of their students engaged in the process of learning. Over 90% of students reported feeling overwhelmed, or highly stressed, by all the things that were in their lives. Stress has been shown to be a cause of anxiety, depression, heart disease and various other illnesses. This is shown by the fact that 9.5% of teens reported seriously considering suicide.
One of the main stressors in most teenager’s life is their education. The average teenager spends about 7 hours a day on his education. However, even with all this time spent studying, studies show that students are performing worse, with average grade levels on a decline.
What is the reason for this disparity between the time that student put into their education and the results that they achieve? Why is it that they are getting more stressed and more unhappy? The truth is that the modern education system has gone astray, and lost sight of the fundamental role of education.
The word “education” comes from the Latin word “educo”, which means to draw out from within. Every human being is born as a seed of potential, with immense possibilities. The purpose of education is to let these possibilities actualize themselves to the highest possible level.
Education should be like a fertilizer for the seeds of humanity, giving them what they need to reach for the stars, and bring everyone forward. However, the current education system acts more like dust and garbage, that suffocates seeds and suppresses their potential.
Rather than bringing out what is within, the modern education system covers it up. It acts as a prison rather than a source of freedom. True education should not force the students to conform to a certain path. It should provide an opportunity for students to explore and bring out what is the best inside them.
Instead, the modern education system has essentially become one giant university entrance exam. Society has a path of achievement for students which essentially says; your biggest goal in life should be to get into a good university and get a good job. The problem with this is that it closes youth off to the possibility that their lives can mean something more.
Most people who have gone through this societal path of achievement are living the same day every day. They wake up, go to a job that they do not love, come back tired, and blow the rest of the day away on the couch, before going back to sleep again. Rinse and repeat until you retire, and then die. This is the life that most people are sentenced to when they follow the societal model of achievement.
Because the universities designed the education system in their own image, the skills that are valued by them and the marketplace are what students are pushed towards. Currently, those fields are in the STEM fields; Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
Students are pushed down these fields because they are seen as more secure and lucrative. Youth are taught to keep security as their ideal, and to forgo other things for the sake of it. This mentality of security first is a carryover from the industrial revolution, where the modern education has its roots.
In the industrial revolution, there were two major institutions; the army and the factory. The army was designed to take young men, and turn them into skilled soldiers who would perform orders without question. Each person was given the same curriculum of training, and those who went against orders were punished, sometimes even expelled.
The factory is based off of the concept of an assembly line, where products are built up in stages. It is a system of mass production, which allows large amounts of identical products to be produced quickly. Any product that does not fit the accepted standard is thrown out.
It is in the same way in the education system. Everyone is given a set curriculum, which is designed so that student’s knowledge is built up gradually in stages. Anyone that does not follow this system and does not conform to it’s standards is stigmatized as stupid.
The industrial revolution has come and gone. Back then, power was determined by how much formal education you received. Those who had education became factory owners and merchants, while those without it became laborers. However, we are now living in a completely different era; the digital revolution.
The digital revolution is a creating hyper-connected, hyper competitive and fast changing world. The old dogma of steadiness and security cannot be used to deal with this dynamic era. The focus has to shift from security to individuality, so that every single person can use the gifts inside of him, and express them to the world through the power of the tools that the digital revolution has brought forth.
The problem with the modern education system is that we are using an industrial model, which is used to create inorganic products, on organic human beings. Human beings cannot be manufactured. They have to be raised up more like a botanist grows his plants, allowing each one to exhibit it’s unique characteristics.
Currently, because universities value certain skills more than others, people whose powers lie elsewhere feel inferior. Absolutely brilliant and creative people believe that they are not. It is like what Albert Einstein once said, “Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by it’s ability to climb a tree, it will live it’s whole life believing that it’s stupid.”
What happens when brilliant people stop believing in their brilliance is that this belief in their lack of brilliance covers up what is there, so they end up becoming worse. They get put into this downward spiral where their performance drops due to lack of belief, and when their performance drops, it causes them to lose further belief.
What is needed is a total shift in our mentality about education. Even though we live in a new age, it is within the old principles of education that the solutions to our modern dilemmas lie. In a 1947 book by Stella Van Petten Henderson called “Introduction to Philosophy of Education”, four main objectives of education are identified.
They are self realization, the art of human relationships, economic efficiency and civic responsibility. Each of these objectives are equally important, and an imbalanced focus on any of these can cause problems.
The modern education system focuses on economic efficiency, at the expense of everything else. The goal of the modern education system is to get you ready for the workforce, and into a stable job where you can make money.
It is about being the most efficient at making money, and the most useful thing for making money according to the societal model of achievement is the development of intellect. However, the current education system’s exclusive focus on the intellect causes the intellect to become a weight holding back one’s inner potential, rather than a tool to bring it out.
The successful person in the digital age is going to need all the goals of education realized within him. He must be able to deal with people properly, and have the ability to do what is right for himself and for others. He has to stand on the strength of his entire being, not just the small thing that is the intellect.
The tools that the digital age has given us create a tremendous opportunity for this vision to become a reality. With the advent of the internet, information has become available to people. Degrees worth of information can be found with just a click or a touch. Information may have determined power before, but now everyone has the power of any information they want, available to them at a moment’s notice.
Currently, the education system is based on information transfer and intellectual development. However, due to the fact that information is available to anyone right now, the education system can be pushed in the right direction.
Instead of becoming a place for information transfer, school can become a place where people learn the science of interacting with people, the art of creating things, building them up with care, and help to realize the true objectives of education.
The great author Mark Twain once said, “I have never allowed my schooling to interfere with my education.” However, if education is transformed for the conditions of the digital revolution, so that it brings out the possibilities rather than suffocating them, schooling does not have to interfere with education. They can both be one, and when this happens, it will create a true golden age for humanity.