Lacey Smith

My case against formal education Pt 2

In Education on December 14, 2011 at 12:00 pm

My last post introed my beef with formal education. I specifically focused on college, but said that my issues were not limited to the 4-6+ years spent at a university.

For hundreds, if not thousands, of years, people were pretty much self-educated. There were periods of woeful ignorance and periods of formal education, but the modern system is fairly unique.

Unfortunately, unique does not equal good. Our national network of K12 public schools really is bad for freedom.

For 16+ years of our lives (college is included in this number), we sit in classrooms and listen to teachers tell us what is truth and what is not. Unfortunately, all truth is subject to interpretation through the perspectives of the speaker. These people are authority figures, especially to very young children who do not yet have the critical thinking skills to reason out what is accurate and what is not.

Moreover, critical thinking is not taught in any high school I know of and thinking critically is a highly risky move in most colleges, especially if you disagree with a professor’s point of view.

This is not even my biggest issue with formal education (and it’s a major sticking point for me). My most serious concern is that for 16+ years, students are taught what to learn, when to learn it and how to learn it by a system regulated and (largely) run by the government.

We go in one side at about 5 years old (although preschool and pre-K programs – some of them mandatory – are starting kids at 3 or 4 now) and come out at around 22 years old, having learned whatever the school has told us to learn.

We never learn how to learn for ourselves. This is a dangerous and insidious position for citizens of a republic to be in and we need to consider if that’s the position we want to put our children in as well.

I’m not suggesting we dismantle the whole formal education system or that nobody gets a high school diploma or a college degree.

Some people (think doctors, engineers, etc.) need a more formal education. One caveat to that is that we’ve had doctors, engineers, etc. for thousands of years without this system. Yes, there is better technology and better techniques than a thousand years ago and it’s good for individuals to be trained in a safe environment, but even medical school can be a dangerous place for learning truth (ask anyone who has asked a new doctor about “alternative” medicines).

What I am suggesting is that we evaluate our education system and figure out what specifically we are expecting out of it (saying “an education” is not enough… what does that mean?) and then deciding if we are getting it from the current system and what the costs are.

Our current formal education system is a fraud. It is designed to teach us to obey authority and to know only what we are told. It is teaching us how to be told what to do, not how to think for ourselves.

It’s time for a change.

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  1. Lacy,
    I agree with almost all of you point except one. The disagreement is that my high school education (thanks to a few teachers i know you never had) actually made me learn hoe to learn something for my self and my college the first semester has a mandatory critical thinking class that you take and then encourages you to study and hold conversations with your instructors in which if you have disagreements they are not allowed to tell you are wrong for your opinion.
    So while there does need to be more change i think the changes need to be more empowering by facility of these school to do self learning at a younger age.

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