Too Much Education or Not Enough?

Posted: July 14, 2016 in Motivation
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Are we getting too much education today or is it the same education as in the past drawn out over a longer period of time so that everyone passes?

My grandfather had a grade five education, started out with his own business, later went into government where he set up medicare for an entire province among other things, and eventually became a mayor.

My father had a high school diploma, went in for manual labor and factory work, and retired with a pension.

I have a university degree and will need to work until I die.

Untangling Education versus Pay

Part of the change over the generations described above is due to recessions or depressions appearing about every ten years. Those have kept wages down while raising the cost of living.

The result has been that more and more education is needed to get a job that just pays the bills. Thanks to student loans, it can be a long time before those better paying jobs make a difference in your bank account. Many choose to stop at high school and get by on minimum wage or enter the welfare system.

But that’s a separate problem. Let’s stick with the value of education.

We Were Taught More in the Past

In 1917, my then 12 year old grandmother moved to Canada from Scotland with her family. She had been in grade 9 studying calculus and algebra, among other subjects appropriate for the grade level.

When she enrolled in school in Canada she was told, “Grade 9 is too far ahead for a 12 year old. We’re putting you in grade 6.” She was disappointed to say the least. For the rest of her public education, she was at the top of her class and went on to take a one year teacher’s degree. When she went to work as a teacher, she could have been a principal but was passed over for a less qualified male teacher because, “It wouldn’t be right for a woman to be a man’s supervisor.” Yeah. It was a different world in a lot of ways.

That’s Just Scotland

Is it just Scotland? Did they start kids in school three years earlier than Canada? I think it was Europe versus North America. Maybe it still is.

Any readers from Europe who would like to comment on what grade, age, and year they found themselves studying calculus and algebra? Scottish comments could be especially revealing.

Location is not the point either. It’s how much education and how soon.

Triumph of the Unintelligent?

When I went to school in the 1960s and 70s, a 60% was required or you repeated the grade. I passed every grade with little effort. A pass was all the school and my parents demanded. Why this matters will make sense shortly.

Today, student pass every grade no matter how well they do. Students with low intelligence or ambition mustn’t be made to feel bad. An intelligent child may not reach their full potential. If their parents allow it, they can choose to play video games and watch TV instead of studying and they’ll be fine – until they start working. Then the difference between slackers and serious students will make a difference.

Student Loans for All

Student loan programs have become another money grabbing scam. They have some of the highest interest rates you can find outside of visiting a loan-shark. But is college or university necessary? Isn’t this further education needed because too little is taught in our free – taxpayer funded – public education?

I remember public school as learning the same information year after year. There was definitely a difference if I compare what I remember of grades 3, 6, 9, and 12 for example. But, year to year? There weren’t any big jumps in what was to be learned. There could be.

Get Smart or Get a Paper Hat

What if schools had a passing grade that didn’t affect moving to the next grade until age 16? Parents and educators would know who needed help and the students who didn’t care about grades as children could catch up in their teens. Students too lazy or unintelligent to pass will never graduate high school and will need to settle for a job where they wear a paper hat. I know what you’re thinking.

“Students with high school degrees get stuck in those crappy minimum wage jobs. Drop-outs go on welfare.” I agree. That’s the problem when every student passes regardless of their grade and when very little is taught in the twelve years of public school. Both of these things need to change.

What’s All This Then?

First, students need to be held back for failing once they reach high school.

Second, the education system needs to be teaching more.

When someone graduates high school, they should already be as qualified as what we currently call an undergraduate or college grad. You read it right. A bachelor’s or college degree could be part of our 12 years of publicly funded education.

If a 12 year old could pass grade 9 courses a hundred years ago, they could certainly do so today. We have better nutrition and instant access to information through the internet. By increasing the amount to be learned year to year, a grade 6 student could be learning calculus, algebra, and other subjects appropriate to that educational level.

What currently passes for a high school education could be taught by the end of grade 9 and then the student could move on to the field which will become their career.

“But wait,” you object, “Won’t we need hundreds of thousands of professors to pull this off?”

Who Really Teaches the Students?

I said earlier that I passed every grade of public school. My success didn’t depend on whether the teachers were engaged, competent, or bored. It depended on how much I studied. The same applies to higher education.

In university, I had one instructor who spoke in a droning monotone that could put you to sleep. Another put his notes on a projector and we copied them down. There was even an instructor who gave an intro to his course on the first day and there were no further lectures. Students could write computerized tests based on the textbook’s chapters whenever they felt like it. I still managed to graduate with first class honors. Let’s not overemphasize the need for every teacher to be great.

Don’t get me wrong. Teachers who motivate their students to learn are the backbone of education. But not every teacher needs to be a motivator. It’s the student who must learn to take good notes, do the required reading, and study until they know their stuff.

Where are These Teachers Coming From?

They’re already in place. Education doesn’t stop because we leave school. Who doesn’t continue to learn as an adult? Maybe after retirement life can become all play and no work, but most of us continue to learn for our jobs, careers, hobbies, and because we like to learn. That applies to teachers too.

Any transition to squeezing more education into the 12 years of public education will need to happen over time. Most teachers will have no problem learning what they need. And the few bored teachers that have a problem with continuous learning? There are other jobs. Maybe they aren’t in the right career anyway.

But What about Colleges and Universities?

In case you didn’t get the memo, real world colleges and universities are already on their way out. They are just like the stores that don’t supply good value for your buck and raise their prices just before they go bankrupt. The costs of higher education have had astronomical jumps. They are grabbing all they can before they disappear.

Online courses and degrees will take their place. The best instructors can have thousands of students and earn just as much money as teaching in a brick and mortar classroom at a much lower cost to students.

This coming change will free even more instructors to fill the positions in advanced high school courses.

When’s All This Happening?

I’m not a world leader or even an educational reformer. The problem and it’s solution seem obvious. It’s got to happen one day soon. Let’s not expect a sudden change.

Any review of the characters running for the leadership of a country may make you wonder if there’s much chance of getting someone intelligent enough to start the reform. Don’t lose hope. Candidates often act like idiots to try and identify with their citizens, whom they assume are idiots. It’s just the way the rich view the working class. A different problem altogether.

One day a leader will rise who sees the problem and the solution. The change that’s already in motion will continue. Education will get better. The parasitic student loan system will disappear because it won’t be needed. People will be ready for real careers when they finish high school.

But what about all those crappy minimum wage jobs? People will be too well educated.

The Robot Revolution

Robots are dummies. They learn and do what they are taught. With binary brains, they will never make intuitive leaps or develop desires and emotions. The crappy minimum wage jobs will go to the robots. “Would you like fries with that? Battery at twenty percent. Please replace battery. Thank you for your order.”

Lots of changes are coming in the near future. A blog article couldn’t possibly cover it all or predict it all. As with historical changes, some will find the future terrible and others will find it glorious. Be a learner and go with the changes. Have a glorious future.

Article by Ivan Izo.


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