Fragility of Education

Fragility of Education

As technology continues to take over everything, the long-standing monolith known as mainstream education continues to struggle to keep up with the unpredictable serpent that is technology.

Think of traditional education as a conveyor belt designed to shape children from preschool to university: Their trajectory through the education system is plotted for them along with their peers. Once they're done with school, they become a functioning member of the workforce where they will stay for the rest of their lives. That's the idea anyway.

It's hard to ignore the cumbersome—allergic to change—nature of western education. This is why the education system favours professions like Lawyers, Doctors, and Teachers. The rate of change in these industries is very low. At the opposite end of the scale, Technology changes so often (World Economic Forum) that Universities find themselves trapped in a perpetual loop of almost catching up and then falling way behind again.

Let's hypothesise for a moment. Say that we figure out how to fix the traditional education system's sluggish response to change. Would that make things better? Not really. Even if we fixed that aspect, there's still much work to be done in how students are taught, which goes all the way back to the industrial revolution.

A typical classroom during the industrial revolution.

The model of education in use today started as what's known as the "Prussian Model". The Prussian Model was designed for a time when the majority of people worked in factories. This had the effect of grinding any creative impulse out of children from a young age. The way things were back then, it just wasn't realistic to make a living being an intellectual or a creative. For that matter, even today you're a lucky person to make it as a creative.

Jump forwards over one hundred years to the present and it's hard to believe that in the face of so much change, mainstream education in the world's richest most powerful countries still operate in almost the same way as they did back then. Students are taught how to not think for themselves, and that they'll get by in life just fine so long as they can remember certain immutable facts. This does not reflect the modern world at all.

The worst thing about traditional education in my view is that it aims to teach people as cohorts and not as individual's. This has the effect of making the competition between students so close that there's almost nothing between them. It also increases demand in the market for unique combinations of skills that universities, with their cookie-cutter approach to education, don't teach.

I will talk about the value of unique skillsets in a later post.

Western traditional education is rendering itself obsolete when it comes to teaching the next generation the skills they will require to be successful in the world. Until we figure out how to fix this gaping hole, students will continue to graduate with an identical set of out-of-date skills, and will be taught to prioritise regurgitating information instead of learning for themselves.

The traditional methods are becoming obsolete to the wealth creators of the future.