Everything is Broken

Earlier this week I was reading Smithsonian Magazine, (I know… Weird.), and I read this article about LEGO. It got me thinking about the engineering and science job sector, which is what the article was written to do. LEGO has been very influential in encouraging kids to learn through hands-on projects, and they’ve developed ways to teach kids programming and engineering by providing them with the tools. LEGO inspires people to create and imagine, and hires from their fan-base to do it. Many companies don’t do things like that. Including the one place designed to do just that– the educational system.

Schools were originally designed to create clones to work in factories, right around the time of the industrial revolution. Slaves were being released, and business owners had to find replacements for these slaves. They starting hiring people with educations so that they could better maintain and develop factory systems. You had to know how the machine works so you could use and repair it. Education used to be only for the rich and white. Then, when coloreds could find schools for themselves, it was for those who wanted more out of life. Uneducated people were doomed to a life of poverty, sickness, and ridicule. One of the biggest lessons an educated person learned was simply cleanliness, hygiene, and self-maintenance. This made them stand out, as gentlemen in a crowd of orphans and field workers.  They learned to wash their socks, sleep between sheets, and conform to the standard of well-adjusted members of society. People were climbing the ladder, simply by obtaining an education in the first place.

People yearned for schools back when they were growing. People always had questions, and no way of answering them. Religion and education were things that fed a starving people. Some didn’t have access to books and literature to even learn how to read and write. Some didn’t use money to learn how to count. The thought of going to school was valued and admired, like an educated man was a god.

Today, the system has broken down. The old-fashioned clone-factories don’t work anymore, because individualism has started to take hold. People have grown tired of factory-made and store-bought people. We have plenty of those. But no one is pushing the boundaries anymore. What used to be inspirational ways of creating product for the masses has become old and dry. New innovations are needed to solve the problems that these people and product factories have created. Instead of forming well-rounded minds, full of philosophy, math, literature, religion, etc., we should be creating specific tools that have specific purposes. How much of school do you remember? Only the things that you still use today! If you’ve gone into a career in finances, you probably don’t use the information you learned in english class very often.

Kids dread school. That’s so backwards! School should be fun, interesting, helpful, and inspiring. Kids should go to school everyday, and come home with their brains exploding full of the things they want to do with this new information. Kids should anticipate school as much as they anticipate a new LEGO kit, or as much as they enjoy playing Minecraft. School should be a place where you can stretch and exercise your brain in ways that you never dreamed of. But it’s not. Schools are no longer informative or relevant. The need for a system of parents, teachers, principals, school boards, and national organizations to sign off on everything a child is given is ridiculous. Obviously, porn websites should not be allowed in schools. But Youtube? Wikipedia? These sites are so useful for students. Who cares if the information if wrong, as long as the kid is willing to learn it. If the information is wrong, the kid should have studied the topic deep enough to know it’s wrong or biased, and dismiss it.

Sugata Mitra, from India, has done tests and development on new education systems. He’s found that kids are fairly self-sufficient learners, if the subject matter is new, useful, and inspiring. The problem is that today’s curriculum is not like that. With the concept of “No Child Left Behind,” all the kids learn at the pace of the slowest kid in class. This applies to every level of classroom, from AP to Remedial. The kids at the top of the class are bored, tired, disengaged. The kids at the bottom are ashamed, they don’t care enough, and they are not disciplined enough to try harder. For myself, I’m usually at the top of the class. I’ve seen most of the information before, and the stuff I don’t know, I can learn pretty fast. After reading a chapter once or twice, I can pass a test with A’s. Because of that tendency, I tend to disengage. I don’t even read the chapter, and I get a B because I know my way around a test, or I know my way around a teacher’s test-writing style. If there was any new information, I haven’t missed much. I don’t even know what I missed. I probably missed all kinds of things, but I don’t need it. I may never need it. If I do need it… Google.

The age for stuffing information into brains is over. We don’t need any more information, now that we have Google. We need people. We need groundbreaking, out-of-the-box, high school dropout, passionate people. We don’t need college degrees, we need field experience. We don’t need rote memorization, we need repetition from use. I mostly taught myself web design– flying through three courses without gaining much outside a few extracurricular credits. But I will stay up all night for three days to find the solution to a layout bug, or figuring out how HEX codes work. I have devoted hours and hours to pouring over articles and forums, searching for pieces of information I probably could have found in a textbook somewhere. But I didn’t want the answers from a textbook. I wanted to figure out how everything works by myself. And I have.

What’s wrong with this picture?

I’m not sure how to fix the system, but I know that everything is broken.

Everything is broken.

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