This Is What’s Wrong With The Education System

UBC Library Communications
UBC Library Communications

I’ll tell you what’s wrong with the education system.

In elementary school, it’s the teachers. And I’m not talking about all the teachers, nah. We all know that there are “good teachers” out there, and if your son gets assigned to their classroom by lot, well Hallelujah, your work here is done. But isn’t it a shame that these “good teachers” stand out so much, they who inspire their students, they who can make a classroom rise or sit as one, they who show off the beauty of math and the logic of art, they who are doing their job. Isn’t it a shame that normalcy has become a standardized lecture and a standardized worksheet, that if you raise your hand and the teacher actually answers your question, well, count yourself lucky kid, not everyone gets to have a teacher like that.

I’ll tell you what’s wrong with the education system.

In high school, it’s the age. Because it has been proven that societies without the concept of “teenager” do not experience what we do: the rebellion, the uncertainty, the generation of ducklings struggling to either accept their ugliness as beauty or else become swans, we haven’t yet quite figured out which we ought to teach them. It’s the age, and some of the parents, the ones who send their children off to school and then wash their hands of teaching their kids anything, such as how to be a functioning member of society, or even just a decent human being, and then when they get those calls home at nine p.m., they cry “where did I go wrong?”, which we know is far too little and far too late. That blend of increased hormones and decreased guidance, it’s no wonder high school is such a shit show.

I’ll tell you what’s wrong with the education system.

In university, it’s the institution. It’s the students packed into a lecture hall with a professor at the front, worked out in the scientifically optimized ratio of one-thousand students to one teacher. It’s the interesting courses that have no value to your real-world career path, and then the boring ones that do. It’s the mechanical machinery of: cash and student in, debt and graduate out. When Pink Floyd said “we don’t need no education,” well, that’s a double-negative, son, so we really do need school to get an education – just not the kind of school we’ve been getting. Am I right? And that’s why we have disillusioned graduates with useless degrees.

I’ll tell you what’s wrong with the education system, you who have been nodding in agreement.

“Education” is not just defined as “school and textbooks and homework and tests.”

“Education” is not just Kindergarten…to PhD…and done.

“Education” is not enclosed to the prison of any one building, is not the responsibility of the lecturer way up at the front of the class.

“Education” is not just the highbrow, and it sure as hell isn’t reserved for the 1%.

Education is knowledge – not the thoughtless accumulation of knowledge, but knowing what to make of what you see. It is watching the news and thinking “hold up – that’s really biased”; it is reading an article and thinking “hold up – there’s a better way to make that point”; it is listening to your friend debate and thinking “hold up – that’s not a sound argument.” It is living life as you think it ought to be lived, and when you slip up, thinking – “hold up – am I happy here?”

Education is progress – not a process of progressing point A to point B along lines delineated by a race to graduation, but a process of progressing towards self-improvement. It is becoming competent in what makes you happy, whatever that may be – because a stay-at-home mom who raises three upright children and a shop clerk who never accepts anything less than polished efficiency are arguably more educated than a mediocre lawyer who lives for his weekends and rots in a listless stupor the other five days of the week.

Education is curiosity – it is looking at the world around you with the eyes of the child you buried long ago, of always asking “why” and never taking “it just is” as an answer.

If parents, teachers, age, or the institution, stop you from becoming educated, if your eyes dull as your knowledge wanes, your progress stagnates, and your curiosity evaporates, if you give away responsibility to everything and everyone but yourself, I have to ask – did you ever really care about your education?

I’ll tell you what’s wrong with the education system. It’s that we blame the system for our education and that we think of education as a system. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Keep up with Diana on Twitter

More From Thought Catalog