I have a pretty controversial view on education, one that not many people will agree with. I believe that our educational system is letting us down as humans, flawed in its nature. It’s complex, rigid curriculum leads us into an inconceivable future. So many people lack a vision for their life, coasting from event to event with no real idea of where they want to go. Realising where I wanted to go, and that our flawed educational system is letting us all down, I dropped out of university and you should too.
The Industrial Era of School
A lot of people when talking about the history of education use the notion ‘industrial era’. It is used to describe the development in the education system or the lack of. Whilst using it to describe our educational history, I use it to highlight the flaws in our system today.
Our educational system is complex and varies a vast amount across each school. However, a common system of testing, memorization and strict rules is still commonplace. The question that I thought about was, are schools equipped to address the needs of society in a post-industrialism world? Or are our schools closing people’s creative potential and gearing them up to be another robot in a large corporate company?
Below is an extract from the book Future Shock, written by Alvin Toffler in 1970. He describes the argument for industrialism and our schooling system.
Mass education was the ingenious machine constructed by industrialism to produce the kind of adults it needed. The problem was inordinately complex. How to pre-adapt children for a new world – a world of repetitive indoor toil, smoke, noise, machines, crowded living conditions, collective discipline, a world in which time was to be regulated not by the cycle of sun and moon, but by the factory whistle and the clock.
The solution was an educational system that, in its very structure, simulated this new world. This system did not emerge instantly. Even today it retains throw-back elements from pre-industrial society. Yet the whole idea of assembling masses of students (raw material) to be processed by teachers (workers) in a centrally located school (factory) was a stroke of industrial genius. The whole administrative hierarchy of education, as it grew up, followed the model of industrial bureaucracy. The very organization of knowledge into permanent disciplines was grounded on industrial assumptions. Children marched from place to place and sat in assigned stations. Bells rang to announce changes of time.
The inner life of the school thus became an anticipatory mirror, a perfect introduction to industrial society. The most criticized features of education today – the regimentation, lack of individualization, the rigid systems of seating, grouping, grading and marking, the authoritarian role of the teacher – are precisely those that made mass public education so effective an instrument of adaptation for its place and time.
Education kills creativity
Whenever you see a little kid, you see them asking questions, being curious and doing things their own way. They aren’t afraid to make mistakes and they learn from them. So what happens? They go to school and get taught how to memorise, follow rules and do things one way, the ‘right way’. I was commonly told that I had to follow an essay structure and that writing my own way wasn’t going to get the marks I needed. Teachers force this notion of good grades equals a good degree and eventually a secure job. This is the image of success which is failing so many people.
We’re forced to choose subjects to study based on assumptions of the future we believe is going to happen. If history has proven anything, it’s that we can’t predict the future. So we are supposed to choose a subject that is going to dictate our whole life, predicting what we are going to be happy doing for the next 40+ years?
From the moment we attend school to the moment we finish, we are engulfed by this hierarchy of subjects. We are lead to believe that Mathematics is more important than art and dance. It is installed in our educational system, we practice maths every day but have art once a week. Our educational system forces us into this old system that gears us up to sit and work and following rules but doesn’t nurture the curiosity needed in this modern post-industrialism world to innovate and achieve new levels of success.
Below is a quote from Einstien, which I believe means that every child is born with an abundance of curiosity but our society that we force upon them saps that out of them and forces them to conform to a broken system.
Every little flower of curiosity, is crushed by society itself. – Einstein
Give the video below a watch, it’s a talk by Ken Robinson, titled ‘Do Schools Kill Creativity?’.
Why university is good
If university is good, then why am I telling you to drop out? Whilst I have controversial views on education, I’m not against people who go to university, I went for 2 years. Unversity is a great place to learn, network and develops you into who you want to become. A bubble from the real world, where you can learn without pressures present to others not in it. It offers pools of resources, information, debates, and communities that have the potential to enrich your life.
It can be a great place for people who have a specific vision of what they want to do afterward. For example, if you wanted to become an aerospace engineer, then university is a very good avenue to pursue. Having a clear vision of what you want in life and judging if university is the right path can be tough, I’m not denying that. However, our educational system leads us into this problem with bliss ignorance, and that’s where we are going wrong.
We are lead to believe it’s a solution for everyone, and that it guarantees a better job and a better life after it. That simply isn’t the case, and so many people are oblivious to the reality of this situation. A big culprit for this false ideology is, in my opinion, our parents. In the days when they went to university, they were guaranteed a job afterward, and not that many people actually went to university. It was a good way to safely spend your valuable time to entail on a better path in life. However, 1 in 3 people are attending university now, and when they finish they rush into a safe secure job and stay in it.
Dream bigger and develop a vision
If you’re anything like me, you simply don’t accept the fact you need to be working in a 9-5 job for the rest of your life. So many people don’t challenge this way of life, they don’t think outside of the box society traditionally hands you. Whilst there is nothing wrong with getting a full-time job, in fact, it is crucial that people get jobs for businesses to work, you shouldn’t ignorantly accept this route.
This article is written for people who are lacking a vision, aren’t thinking big enough and simple attending university because they feel the ‘need’ to. I was this person before I attended and in the first year. If money weren’t an object and having a secure job wasn’t an issue, what would you do to fill your life? Would you still work in Finance? Would you still be an accountant? The answer for most people would be no.
This is what I did that made me decide to drop out and I challenge you to do the same. I wrote a description of a day in the life of my 40-year-old self. First I thought about the sort of questions I needed to answer, here are some you can use:
- What will I be eating for breakfast?
- What are my hobbies?
- What will I be reading?
- What music will I be listening to?
- What will I spend most of my day doing?
- What sort of people will I have around me?
- Where am I?
- What’s most important possession I own?
- Am I happy?
I challenge you to think as big as possible, your wildest dreams if you could achieve anything. Once you have what you believe to be true, answer one more question. Is dropping out of this degree I’m doing going to affect this vision I have? I bet the answer is no. Mine certainly was, in fact, I came to the conclusion that the degree was stopping me from getting there. Suddenly I had gone from attending lectures every day to quitting university.
I realised that I’d gone to university with no real vision, only the hope for a good job at the end of it. No consideration for my future self. Now I’m not saying this is for everyone, but if you’re an aspiring entrepreneur then this is most certainly the case.
There are evidently a lot of flaws in our education system, stemming from the early days all the way up to university. The nature of our educational system is outdated and there is a lot of margin for improvement. That’s not the point I’m trying to make here, the point I want you to think about is why you’re actually at university in the first place. Is it because you’ve been falsely lead to believe its key in being successful? Does it fit with your dream? More importantly, do you even have a vision of where you want to go or and you doing everything to buy you more time?
The key here is to really question what you’re doing, and decide whether it is taking you closer to your goals. For me, it was taking me in the opposite direction. Had I stayed in university I might have gone into a 9-5 job working in finance. Think bigger, and reclaim that creativity that has but unfairly drained from you and lead the life you want to live, not the life society tells you to live.
I’d love to hear your stories, ideas and any thoughts you have on the topic of univerisity, or education in general. Leave a comment below and I will make sure to get back to you. Also, if you’d like to keep updated with more content and exclusive material that interests me then sign up for the weekly newsletter to the right of this post, or at the bottom of this page.
If you’d like to read more about this controversial topic, these are some of the articles that you can check out –