Thursday, November 12, 2009

Stoplights and Freeways. Part 3

This is the part where I offer improvement; the part where I dream; the part where the real conversation begins.

If I were to sum up the problem with the Higher Education System in one word it would be:


The ideas and passion that put it there are long expired and no longer satiate our needs as a society. We need more than just existence, we need life.
  • Some will say it helps us get jobs, but I say that employers are dumb for requiring a degree at all, and they know it.
  • Some say it helps us train for our career, but I say that you'll be retrained your first day on the job anyhow.  
  • Some might say it weeds out the lazy and the stupid, but I say it weeds out the creative and the genius.
  • Some say that's just the way it is, and I dream about the way it can be.

Anything that stagnates too long dies, maybe not in a physical sense, but in an emotional sense. The paradigm held by the college system elite is that we should make college difficult and challenging to create the best doctors, lawyers, politicians, and businessmen possible, but I say this top-down approach is archaic. I believe every person is best in their own right, in a given set of circumstances. Every student should be challenged, yes, but not to the point of ostracism. The new system should thrive on each individual's characteristics and each person should be able to develop and grow within the system. This is the best approach. Actually, it's the only sustainable approach.

This theory needs to be grounded. What we need in the real world is a system that has a dynamic structure. One where there are guiding principles, not stringent rules. A system that is governed by its students, whose experiences are what make the system work in the first place. The system will not abide grades, standards, nor meaningless tasks, but experience, learning, and growth! As individuals we may succeed by our individual agendas, but in that, be unified as a school. A school dedicated to the things that really matter in life.

So maybe its not that we need a new freeway built, but perhaps we need to completely re-invent the transportation system as we know it.

A summary of points:

  • The current system is lifeless. There is little excitement in it.
  • Anything that stagnates too long dies.
  • Who knows what kind of people are being ostrasized by the "system".
  • "I believe every person is best in their own right, in a given set of circumstances."
  • The current system elites are bent on shutting people out. The new system will bring everybody in, help them through, and encourage them to grow. 

This is not about me talking to you, this is about us talking about the future; our future.


  1. Id like you to imagine a road system like the education system you described. Roads would lead everywhere and only in direct paths to where people wanted to go. They would be everywhere, and created by the driver to be used for his specific purpose of driving to a specific locaiton. Now id like to see anyone engineer a road system like that, perhaps we need hover cars.
    There are certainly a myriad or problems with the higher education system, but you do need it, and it has to be standardized. Sure employers probably shouldn’t require degrees for so many jobs, but how many engineers and self taught doctors do you see. You are focusing only on the negatives of the education system as it appears to your life. Really most people don’t enjoy school, it is not the end all be all way to learn, but it does work in lots of ways.

  2. I agree, it does work for some people. I'd encourage you to read some of my other blog posts. :D

  3. Also, I was hearing on the radio the other day that there is some decent evidence that the government is researching teleportation technology! :D

  4. And I know for a fact that you don't love school at all compared to building computers!!

  5. The fact is that the current system has succeeded this long for a reason. There are many misgivings and problems, and I agree that change or an alternative could make the system better. But we need to recognize it's benefits. You're right, Ryan, it doesn't work for everyone. But perhaps evidence shows that it works for most people... And at the same time, I'm not going to settle on that justification for ostracising the minority of people it hinders. So I'm right there with you :)

  6. I do have some evidence to look up on this topic, but virtually every person I know dislikes the college system, doesn't feel challenged by it, or is just completely bored to death.

    I believe the system should work for everybody to get them where they want to go in a way that is compelling, inspiring, and insightful.

    I feel like even if we just created an alternative that took care of that minority in more of an organized fashion than just letting them wade through life lost and confused, I'd be content... though still not satiated.

  7. Ashley said, "...perhaps evidence shows that it works for most people..."

    Most people, like most businesses, settle for average and really pretend that mediocrity is average and that average is good, or even great.

    The problem with the education system must first be addressed in the grade school/high school arena. This is the staging ground, the Minor Leagues, it should prepare you for the Majors, so that, if successful, you can make some serious coin... if that's your thing.

    College should be a system for higher learning, not one where students take two years mired in basics they should have mastered in high school.

    Throwing people onto the freeway when they haven't learned to parellel park is really problematic. It's a raising of standards that the entire system needs. Attempting to "fix" the system without curing the root problem, which is lack of education BEFORE entering college, will lead no where.

    Some people can't even read a map, nor figure out how to use MapQuest or Google Maps on their computer, these are the same students who still can't write a paper, understand moderately complex scientific theory, solve an equation, or spell without using "spell checker". In order for a plant to have beautiful leaves the roots must be strong. Whether it's the inability to parallel park, or the fact that one can't flex their chlorophyll laden appendages at the sun, the solution is the same. And knowing that the shortest distance between two points is often short for a reason may give make you wonder whether you should have taken the bus.