Monday, February 07, 2011

Education dissected...

This is a great (and creative) presentation on education:

I believe if we are ever going to leap frog over other civilizations by getting ourselves out of the mess we are in and REALLY ensuring we don't get back into this mess again, it's going to take a massive overhaul of our education system. (Side note: education is only one of many things that need to be overhauled and certainly not the first, but is in the top 5) As someone who makes a living transforming manufacturing companies in a manner similar to what we discusses, I can tell you he is spot on.

Here are some more things to think about. When you benchmark the results of our public education system against the rest of the world, we are average at best. Asian countries always come in at or near the top in subjects like math and science. But, these results are measured largely the same way in which we measure our students - my metrics that are questionable to begin with.

If we suck so bad at education, why do so many Asian countries send their students over here to go to school? If we suck this bad at education, why are these countries studying our education system? The answer is simple. Because as dysfunctional as it is, it still has the tendency (for now anyway) to produce people who are more creative in their approach to solving problems where there are multiple answers than nearly anywhere else on the planet. In one of Malcolm Gladwell's books he compares the opportunities that where given to Bill Gates with some other guy (whose name if forget) who tested much higher on the IQ scale. The opportunities provided to Bill Gates were coincidental, like availability to rent time on large mainframe computer as a child and his parents did not keep him in a box (they allowed him to go pursue his crazy passion for computers). The other guy? He had road block after road block placed in front of him until he finally gave up. My point being is that here in the U.S., in spite of an educational system designed like a factory, when kids are in home environments where they are allowed (encouraged, actually) to pursue their passions and allowed to explore all their options they learn to think.

I currently have a lovely Asian international student living with us. She is a prime example of this theory. She is "acing" all her subjects where memorization is key (math, chemistry, languages, etc...). But, in real life, she gets an 'F'. She rarely plans further ahead than tomorrows or next week’s assignments. She shows little curiosity about other people. She never thinks to ask, "Why?" I love her, but sometimes I'd like to scream with her lack of curiosity about things outside academia.

It's like Rush always says. We have the same basic DNA as the rest of the people on the planet, so why are we so much further ahead than other countries? I would say simply, it is because, in spite of an education system that tries to create little robots out of us, we are largely unconstrained in our creativity of problem solving.

Imagine how much further ahead we would be if our children grew up in an education system that did not try to put us in a box. Imagine if we were allowed to learn at our own pace and pursue our own passions from the earliest age. Imagine if kids did not have to learn things that would never provide value later in their life, but were allowed to absorb everything they could about subjects where they excelled. Imagine how much more advanced we’d be…

No comments: