Most or all governments in the world employ an education system that can be described as multi-stage lecture-based, and it works like this. There are about a dozen stages of increasing density and complexity, each has a duration of one year. During each stage, there are a bunch of courses about a variety of topics. Each student then must attend daily lectures, solve many assignments, study these courses, and pass all the exams with sufficiently high grades. Only then the student can move on to the next stage of the system and go through this whole process again, except that with courses that demand more time and effort. This system is implemented by building and maintaining many schools and colleges and hiring teachers for all the courses in all the stages and staff for doing the managerial and maintenance work. This is more or less the same system that has been used for hundreds of years, before the invention of any electrical machines.
Does this system work? To answer this question, we need to determine first why education is needed in the first place. Well, it all boils down to one reason: so that (ideally) every person can live a healthy, comfortable, and happy life. So, does the system work?
Well, I don’t know about you but I feel like it doesn’t at all. What’s wrong with it? The reason that the lecture system is used many centuries ago is that it was the only way for people to learn. The guy who knows stuff has to tell people who may be interested in learning that stuff to come and listen to what he/she has to say. Those people then can write down what they have learned as accurately as they can/want and get back home, possibly becoming the “lecturer” and sharing it with even some more people. This method was indeed the only way to teach a large number of people until the invention of the Internet. With the Internet, we can do much better. But first let’s discuss why that education system is a major failure since the Internet. Then, I’ll propose another education system that heavily depends on the Internet and very lightly on lectures, which is not easy to articulate by the way and might sound critically risky.
I studied according to this eduction system and I know many people who have and still are studying according to the system and therefore I feel experienced enough to discuss the problem.
Most students actually like the idea of “learning” but they don’t like to go to schools and they hate most of the stuff that they learn there. I used to like almost only mathematics. Most students like only one or few particular subjects and find the others boring or even torturing to study. This is not because some subjects are intrinsically boring, but mainly because of the unqualified teacher. A teacher need not only have the technical skills but also the teaching skills. I realize after all those years that the vast majority of my teachers in all the educational institutes that I went to are very bad at teaching, and, in many cases, not even technically qualified to teach a particular subject. That’s why I didn’t like studying most of the subjects. Even worse, most of the stuff that I had to learn (or rather memorize) from all those subjects was very much useless in my life. I would have been much happier and probably much better at my profession if I were given the choice in what to study. I feel that I have spent so much time and went through so much struggle in my limited life doing and learning stuff that I never wanted to do and was never useful, just because that’s what the obsolete education system mandates. I believe that much less than %1 of teachers in educational institutes all over the world are qualified to teach. I feel very sorry for the students (or rather victims) who are still stuck in the system. This problem cannot be solved because it’s recursive; the bad teachers are teaching the next generation of bad teachers. It can only be avoided by changing the system.
The keyword here is “choice.” The solution lies on the foundation of choice. We have to let people learn whatever they want to learn in whatever depth and length they desire. Parents must be responsible for teaching their kids how to productively use the Internet to satisfy their natural curiosity. Over time, they’ll develop a particular interest in a particular subject and become more inclined to spend more time learning about it. They can join or create clubs for people who are alike. Governments can use the money that is wasted on the obsolete system on providing fast and free Internet connection to every citizen. Governments and other organizations can sponsor regular conferences and clubs regarding all kinds of professions that enable people who are still learning to engage with people who have become professionals. In this system, students can focus on what they are interested in and learn only what they have to learn to eventually become professionals and make a living. The new system might sound terrifying for some (old) people because it’s very different from the old system. But I think that It’s wonderful and I wish I was born in a place where this system was used.
There is, however, one problem. Governments have to be very careful when moving from the old system to the new because many people can lose their jobs which can cause significant destabilizations. Therefore, embracing the new system requires careful planning. But the change must happen as soon as possible.