Generation Skip — Education (Status Quo)

What is education?

When does education begin and when does it end?

What is the purpose of education? 

How does one go about educating? 

Who should do the educating? 

Where should the educating take place?

When and how does the individual take control of his or her education and how can we make sure we get them to their own self-created launching pad? 

These are truly epic questions.  I would love to end the post prior to this sentence, but I will go on and corrupt with further words and expressions.  For the record, I do not have the answer to these questions.  Do you?  Does anyone?  If you or anyone does, then I invite you and them to these utopian frameworks to begin the beautiful and creative process. 

How does our current world answer these all important enigmas?  Here we have before us intelligent little beings, supple, fresh, clear minds, bodies, and souls, equipped with the means to absorb, grow, and expand along with their minds.  Indeed the brains are pre-wired to some extent as are the genes, but how to do we maximize the potential of each individual’s wiring and stimulate their innovation, creativity, and self power?

Under our current construct, I fear we confine education by a time clock, a balance sheet, a profit and loss statement, and by practicality.  Education isn’t viewed as a means to something new; rather, education is viewed as a means to an end – the end being perpetuation and servitude of what already exists.   The ends then dominate and justify the means.   And, if the ends are struggling financially, what happens to the means?  And if the ends have very limited visions, then doesn’t that in fact limit the means?  Are our latest and greatest inventions the IPOD, IPAD, Viagra,and Zoloft?  Shouldn’t education be thought of as the platform to transform, broaden, expand, push the envelope, and challenge what currently is?  Shouldn’t education be proud and highlight a creation like the Hubble Space Telescope — a creation that has enabled us to view the gigantic universe through which our little planet is plunging?  I think so.  

For a moment, I want you to contemplate and think about our current education systems beginning at the point that the baby comes out of the womb all the way through high-school, through college, through graduate school.  I would like to say through death but under our current construct, we do believe that there is a point where education ends and “real life” begins.  Apparently, “real life” begins when a being has to start making a living.  Have we, as a human civilization, done everything in our power to create the best education system possible?  Are we constantly reworking  and questioning our education systems and methods to continuously improve them?  Is education our number one or even number two priority?  I’ll answer that question.  No.

Let me start at the beginning.  What type of professional help, support, and philosophy is made available to the parents of newborn beings?  What type of environment, sights, noises, foods, temperature variations, clothing, activities, are ideal not only for “a” new born, but for “each” new born – for “each” new born is truly unique.  Even identical twins have differences.  Instead of treating these little creatures like cute little stuffed animals, might we have room to start treating them like something more?  Could education in fact begin right out of the womb?  There are creatures in the natural world that learn to stand up right out of the womb, or must immediately fend for themselves as they hatch out of their eggs.  Have you ever seen those little turtles fresh out of their eggs crawling all alone on the beach to the ocean as death pounces upon them from the skies?  But what do we do with our newborns?  We stick a pacifier in their mouth and often abandon them to some half ass day care center so both parents can work — just like we abandon the old to mind numbing bingo retirement homes.  We talk to them like little puppies.  People, these are potentially powerful and creative little creatures that are soon to become both man and woman.  Is there a chance, a possibility, that we can help them along that process with more true love and admiration than that which we give to a newborn puppy or plastic doll?  Don’t misunderstand me.  Kiss them and hug them, let them know they are loved, talk to them, but talk to them like they are your equal, for one day, if they are raised properly, they will in fact be your superior.

As the young infant begins to grow, we then begin to feed them other things besides breast milk or formula.  Now we enter the world of chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, Kibble n’ Bits.  People, these little beings must be fed powerful and healthy food.  We also begin to introduce them to cartoons, stuffed animals, guns, dolls, and the list goes on.  While we feed them nuggets and mesmerize them with cartoons, we might also stuff them into day care or pre-school for eight hours.  Who makes out on this deal described above? Who is profiting by this process?  Are the kids?  Might there be some alternatives that are more in the interest of developing these little creatures into awe-inspiring beings?  Again, don’t misuderstand me.  I agree they should enjoy their childhood and have a ball, but can we make it a little more interesting and creative?

I think you get the idea so I am going to move along now to the basic school system from kindergarten through high school  — there isn’t much difference along this continuum so I can cover it with one broad stroke.  How do we select our teachers?  How much do we train, evaluate, value and pay our teachers?  How do we decide the curriculum?  What kind of school buildings do we construct and where do we build them?  What is the ideal student to teacher ratio?  How do we integrate technology into the classroom?  How do we account for differences in individuals?  What do we feed children at the schools?  How long do we keep them at school during the day?  What types of practical and community activities do the children participate in?  How often are field trips used to bring education alive?   Is the curriculum focused on getting good results on standardized tests, or on “education”?   

In my blunt opinion, the schools look and feel like prisons.  The teachers are not the crème of the crop due to low pay, lack of training, and relatively easy selection standards.  The student to teacher ratios is high.  The curriculum is wrapped around standardized tests.  Field trips are boring.  School hours are way too long.  Students do not do any practical work in the community with their hands.  Technology and exciting videos are not available or incorporated at potential.  The food sucks.  And we wonder why kids feel like they are going to work when their alarm clocks ring at 7 am?  Ok kiddies, take your SAT and off to college you go.   Go become a doctor, lawyer, engineer, software engineer, or business person.

Now, let me briefly cover college in the United States – the best “higher education” system in the world.  College is corrupted by enormous tuitions and expenses, professors that must publish or perish, time and major limitations, and fraternities and sororities that turn education into a drunken blurred orgy.  If we mix in a little football that pretty much completes the college experience.  At the end of this cycle, it is time to enter the “real world”.  The time has come to choose a career and start making the coin.  It is time for those philosophy, English, and art majors to get a life and a real job. 

Of course, others may elect to assume even more mountains of debt and go on to graduate school to become lawyers, politicians, and doctors.  If they don’t have rich parents or scholarships, they will graduate from higher education with a giant anchor of debt.  That must really inspire our best and brightest.   But no worries.  There is always a way out.  In general, the best and brightest conform and go to Wall Street, Goldman Sachs, Fortune 500 companies, and powerful law firms.  And so, the wheel keeps spinning, round and round and round.  There really isn’t another alternative – if you can’t beat them, then join them.   Of course, you could challenge the status quo and reach the pinnacle rebellious heights of geniuses like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates.  These visionaries have completely altered the status quo – we no longer have to worry about debt, profit, unemployment, economic or mental depression, poverty, ignorance, over-population, environmental destruction, catastrophic war, nuclear bombs, extinction, or in short, Gridlock.  Next post will offer a potential framework for education in Generation Skip.

8 thoughts on “Generation Skip — Education (Status Quo)

  1. This all makes for an interesting read, I wish I had some real answers (good thing we have your theories, eh?:)

    “In my blunt opinion, the schools look and feel like prisons. The teachers are not the crème of the crop due to low pay, lack of training, and relatively easy selection standards. The student to teacher ratios is high. The curriculum is wrapped around standardized tests. Field trips are boring. School hours are way too long. Students do not do any practical work in the community with their hands. Technology and exciting videos are not available or incorporated at potential. The food sucks. And we wonder why kids feel like they are going to work when their alarm clocks ring at 7 am? Ok kiddies, take your SAT and off to college you go. Go become a doctor, lawyer, engineer, software engineer, or business person.”

    Everything you list there, some thing over here, continents away. And worse: it’s RARE (oh, so rare) to find a teacher that became a teacher out of their own free will. It’s sad, the whole system. What happens is one applies to the university for about 6 courses, in order of descending number of points (merits) required to get each course. The course ‘Education’ i.e the one studied to become a teacher, usually ranks very low on this list. Meaning one doesn’t have to have excelled to be admitted on this course at the university. So it’ll be like number 5 or 6 on someone’s application list, a sort of last-ditch attempt to make it into the university on ANY course. This is because so many people are vying for government scholarships as they can’t afford the education. So the thinking is anything is better than nothing, as long as it is sponsored… and so someone who intended to pursue a different career ends up being a teacher because their A’ level exams didn’t turn out so well. Imagine that. If you’re poor, and weak of mind (or some how just flanked your A’ levels) and have no other alternatives you’re on your way to nurturing young minds. Real sad. Of course there are a few that choose the profession of their own volition, and university lecturers are obviously (naturally) exempt from this weird selection mechanism.

    • Thanks for lifting my spirits Kat 😉

      That is sad. Well, I have a way to lift both of our spirits…my next post…fantasy land. Actually, if you look up the education system in Finland I think you might see some hope.

  2. Another thought provoking post TC, and while I understand your frustration, I think it a little unfair to lay at the feet “of geniuses like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates” the blame for the entire worlds misdeeds/problems. Indeed all of these things existed prior to either of these gentlemen existing and I’m sure will continue until the end of time. It would require not just one or two people but every man, woman and child to alter their perception and I’m not sure such a thing is possible…I have some answers to some of your questions, maybe not so much answers but personal musings, so I’ll take one at a time..

    What is education?

    I believe, and remember these are musings, so don’t be too hard on me now, education is the enlightenment of the mind, initially this is through formal education as we see in schools or through the medium of literature, however the best education is that which comes from living and by that I mean the exploration of everything, the world, different cultures, religions, because it is only in the exploration of all of the above that we can truly rid ourselves of ignorance, open-mindedness is a vital ingredient…

    When does education begin and when does it end?

    It begins with our parents and doesn’t end until we cease to be…

    What is the purpose of education?

    To instruct, I would say, we need at least in the beginning to be thought the fundamentals like reading and writing…

    How does one go about educating?

    There are many ways to educate; first and foremost, through careful parenting, then useful instruction through schools and literature. However I do believe that the Parents need instruction before they instruct (if you know what I mean)

    Who should do the educating?

    Definitely this should only be undertaken by an indivdual who has a real vocation, someone who loves to teach and does not see it “as a means to an end”. You really have to love Children / People to make any difference in this field…Teachers of Children should undergo Parenting courses, I think that is one thing that should definitely be mandatory for those seeking a career in this field.

    Where should the educating take place?

    It doesn’t have to be a formal institution, it can take place anywhere and should…for example you can be educated reading the daily newspaper…:-)

    When and how does the individual take control of his or her education and how can we make sure we get them to their own self-created launching pad?

    This is a tough one because everyone is unique and as such reaches maturity at a different time in their lives, for example a twenty year old could have the maturity of a thirty year old and vice versa and if they’ve had the correct instruction the launching pad will be inherent…

    As I say TC, these are just the ponderings of an aspiring Poet, I’m sure you can offer much better answers to your questions…looking forward to the next thought provoking post… 🙂

    • You and I are thinking along the same lines which is incorporated in the next post 🙂

      I think you might have misunderstood my comments about Gates and Jobs. I am not blaiming them for their creations. In fact, their creations are brilliant within the confines of what is. I am just saying that our geniuses can do a lot better outside of this self imposed confines.

      Thank you for your participation. I will be glad when this project is done so I can visit some other blogs and get back to short posts on observing what is 😀

      • I interpreted your comments regarding Gates and Jobs as follows: that they have provided a means for us to fantasize away our problems, or imagine through streamlined sedation that they we are “solving” them.

        On a somewhat related tangent: I can remember a time not too long ago when I was in Europe–in fact, I remember instances with you there–when one would go to a cafe, and it would be filled with people passionately talking, smoking, reading (I know, CRAZY!) actual books, playing actual (I know, CRAZY again) not “virtual” chess. There was something so gritty and human about it, something so down to Earth and real.

        I can still remember a time here in the States (admittedly in a more progressive city), even just a few years ago, when though smoking had been banned, people were still in general engaging in similarly “human” activities and interactions. Then slowly I noticed when I went to cafes to write that all of this was being supplanted by what I will refer to here as “laptoppers”. One day–and I remember this very distinctly–I walked into one of my writing haunts, ordered my espresso, sat down for a good stint of writing, and looked up for moment to find that the entire cafe was filled with these zoned out, zombified laptoppers. There was not a single person in the entire place that wasn’t hooked up to this digital life support system. No one was talking to anyone. No one was reading a book. No one was playing chess. No one was arguing, drunk, smoking, angry, passionate, ALIVE.

        They were off in their little virtual, streamlined lalalands–sedated, sucked into facetiousbook, tweeting away on their I-phonies, setting up their next date through online singles sites, et cetera et cetera. I think this was the death nell of humanity for me. Yet it is framed–and so many believe it–as the great salvation (I call it slavation) of humanity.

        It only gets worse. I still go to cafes to write–now people look at me as if I am some kind of antiquated insane person for actually writing with a pen in a book. Sometimes I want to stand up and scream: “UN-FUCKING-PLUG & LIVE!” I don’t see it as far off that children will gather around and point and laugh at me as if I am some kind of ancient prodigy for sitting in a public park and handwriting in a book.

        Something has been lost here, something of so much worth–like a torch that was extinguished before its value was ever really appreciated. It was replaced by the numbing hum and glow of an efficient computer screen–brilliant, like its creators, but at the same time, like its creators, dead . . . and deadening. These are not the lightning bolts of Beethoven, the ruthless mountain climbings of Nietzsche.

        I miss the hardcore, root-bound, wild, sloppy, reckless riot of the intellect that I once witnessed and participated in. Who today knows what its like to sit in a smoke-filled cafe reading Dostoyevsky or Marx surrounded by the underground intelligentsia plotting revolutions over chessboards and Absinthe? I guess we’ve pro(re)gressed “beyond” that. To me it feels like a sterile death-chamber with Zoloft being administered through eye-injections vis a vis the glowing needle-screens. Thanks Bill and Steve. I’m glad you made everything so efficiently easy for us. “No worries”.

      • LMAO…you do look like an ancient prodigy in a cafe…not old…but wise with a presence…something people look at that doesn’t compute…yes I enjoyed your rant. Soon, companies and the government will be screening our blood and hair for traces of any substance that harms our health and body which leads to higher medical expenses that further empty the already empty coffers. There will be no room for those smokey raw bars or cafes we enjoyed in Paris…we are headed for a sterile and efficient society that weans every nickle and dime out of the populace to keep the machine running.

      • Or remember that place, that bar we went to in Dusseldorf? Hardcore German intelligentsia . . .

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