I’ve always wanted to learn. Everything. Well, at least what I truly enjoyed, what really drove my aspiration into high levels. My passion for learning has been inside me since my early childhood.
For the most unimaginable reason…fear.
As a child, I was constantly afraid I won’t make it into this large complicated world around me. Kids would mock me for not knowing everything or not being capable. So, knowledge gave me a certain sense of security, stability, and self-confidence.
Ten years later, I got into university. Guess what was my major. Yup, education.
I was really passionate about my studies. The academics inspired me even further about learning. And I totally got into that vibe.
Couple years after I graduated, I found out the brutal truth that slapped me in the face – my whole education was a big LIE.
Once I entered into the real world of society, I found myself not informed enough. People and situations questioned my intelligence and abilities that I seemingly acquired through my formal education.
So, I seriously asked myself: was it all worth it? All those years of hard work, did it all help me become an intelligent and capable person?
Like a shadow behind my ears, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s thoughts were whispering to me: “Education doesn’t make you smarter.”
Then I decided to look at education from a different perspective. George Carlin’s words kept ringing inside my head: “Teach children to question what they read, teach them to question everything.” Which made me realize that whenever I was in the classroom, the teachers didn’t ask for my personal opinion, how I see things. They just wanted me to repeat what was written in the books. That was the RIGHT answer for them. So how could I, or anyone else, develop the ability to think, the skills for applying knowledge into daily life, if the teacher doesn’t actually direct me in that?
Even studies confirm that. For example, a 2011 study published in the book “Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses,” by sociologists Richard Arum of New York University and Josipa Roksa of the University of Virginia, found that there was “no significant improvement in the key measures of critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing among students by the end of their sophomore years.”
I believe that education, a real education is supposed to motivate you to learn new things in every possible situation. To inform you about the right reasons, why knowledge is truly important. Living a society where information is the most valuable tool, can we even doubt the importance of learning? So why don’t teachers do that?
Well, for a very simple reason. Because they too don’t believe that. They were also educated in the very same manner they use with their students. A professor of mine was a bit surprised with my graduation thesis because I “dared” to criticize the paradigm which she believed in. My surprise was even greater when I realized that she is unconsciously trying to make me think the way she thinks. And her mentality is not the right one for me. In the end, she bid me farewell with words of her “wisdom” that in order to find a job, having the right connections is important, not the right skills and knowledge.
“Governments don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. That is against their interests. They want obedient workers, people who are just smart enough to run the machines and to the paperwork. And just dumb enough to passively accept it.” – George Carlin
I couldn’t agree any more with Carlin. If you carefully think about it, we don’t actually learn in the classroom, we are BEING TAUGHT. Teachers deliver us information that they were given, or should I say, told, to be injected into our minds. Information about reality which would shape how we percieve our lives and ourselves. They don’t encourage us to discover life and the things that matter on our own.
The truth is that education destroys our true nature. We are shaped into passive observers of reality, instead of active participants in it, masters of our fate, who are amazingly capable to live life to the fullest.
Sadly, I had to realize that the hard way. Through the example of the very people who were paid to educate me. They sure did. They taught me that schooling is not the right education, the education that I, and everyone else need and deserve.
How to manage into the world of ignorance where education doesn’t offer a proper solution?
Were Pink Floyd right when they sang: “we don’t need no education?”
To a certain point, I agree. We don’t need formal education, the one that is being served as a ready-made package to students, regardless of their individual needs, potentials, and interests.
It is actually self-education that truly produces valuable learning outcomes. If we decide to educate ourselves, to learn new important skills every day in every suitable situation, then we can always develop ourselves into intelligent, well-informed, TRULY capable and hence, more confident individuals.
There are so many people that contributed so much to mankind, who were self-taught. Albert Einstein, to name a few, who is considered one of the smartest people in history, DETESTED school because he couldn’t stand the way the teachers taught. He found it very difficult to express his own thoughts, and to pursue what he was interested in, in such a rigid educational environment. Consequently, he quit school at the age of 15.
Did it stopped him from becoming incredibly intelligent, acquire knowledge and achieve so much with his work? Absolutely not.
Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple and probably the most influential technological mind of the 20st century, never finished college. And just try to grasp the idea of how complex his work has been. He made some of the revolutionary products such as the iPod, iPad, and iPhone. And he did it by educating himself!
Does education need a change?
Oh yes, a desperate one. I have to praise innovative approaches in formal education like the one in Finland’s educational system. The country decided to remove subjects from the school curricula and allow students to acquire knowledge by exploring topics from a different perspective. The educational system of Finland is so good, that their students are always on top of every list. So, it’s not surprising that such a progressive change comes from this country.
I strongly believe that examples like this would bring a significant improvement in the way students learn and develop themselves.
So, I close this article with an advice to you my fellow learners out there. Rely on yourselves, not on what you’re being served in the classroom. May Einstein’s words: “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious,” inspire you to excel and accomplish your potential by yourselves.