Some Modern Problems, Part I

© Fernando Caracena, 2016

The Creaky Educational System

The present educational system addresses the needs of the past, but not those of the present. It is geared toward the requirements of factories, which marshal teams of people working toward a common purpose, performing mindless, repetitive tasks under one roof. The work is repetitious and mind numbing. The requirements of the factory are to have a compliant mass of people just competent enough to do the job, but not otherwise capable of offering any troublesome resistance. Instead, potential workers are schooled (or conditioned) into being neat, punctual, and capable of working shoulder to shoulder for hours with near strangers. For a comedic depiction of this system, see this video clip of Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times.

One area of education that requires reform is the teaching of mathematics. Mathematics is the backbone of understanding and operating in our modern world. Yet, the general public is woefully deficient in this area.A huge gap between humanity and its future exists here. There is so much mathematics to learn, and yet it is taught abysmally poorly, especially under the monster called, Common Core.

This is a scheme pushed by the self-styled "genius" Bill Gates, for motives that many people question. According to how common core is taught, the following comedy skits are valid mathematics.


Groping toward a New Educational System

Our educational system needs a complete overhaul to be able to meet the future challenges of education. I cannot see how the present, hide-bound, government-regulated, educational establishment can ever meet even the simplest of educational challenges, no matter how much money you stuff down its gullet. As this monster grows, the cost of education is rising faster than inflation. Clearly, we are doing the wrong thing here. The big hope is that the Internet, which gives the individual a global reach through various personal computer devices, will offer access to the kind of education that the future demands. There are some indications of solutions arriving from unexpected directions: the Kahn Academy offers free eduction; free courses (and some paid) in STEM-related fields (short for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) are listed in The Simple Dollar Leonard Susskind presents some advanced physics lectures online from Stanford University; and if you are interested in learning beginning  physics watch the great lectures of Prof. Water Lewin from MIT.  Indeed, there are many means of self-education, as is pointed out here. The problem is certification of the individual, which though formal enrollment in a university amounts to a king's ransom.

There are some well known educators who have attempted to reform the educational system. At the K-12 level, there are some like Montessori and Holt. The latter advocated "unschooling", which is a variation of home schooling that does not follow a prescribed course of study. In unschooling, the child follows his own interests. The parents, or "teachers" simply provide the resources that the student needs to develop those interests. They are facilitators. I have seen kids that have been unschooled. They have turned out to be successful. They keep the enthusiasm of small children, without learning to be self limiting. They go for the brass ring and more often than not grab it.


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