Here’s a topic I’m very passionate about. Education is something that we have to spend years on, and by the end of it, you just want to be done and hope that you get a good job. Sound familiar?

As usual, check out the TL;DR section at the bottom for a quick summary of all the main points

I’ve had a long-standing belief that the quickest way to kill your passion for any subject or field that you love, is to study it at university. I say this because universities, or really any formal method of education really, educate students in a manner that is so dry, monotonous and worst of all impractical and inapplicable to the real world.

The Most Watched Ted Talk of All Time

If you watch Sir Ken Robinson’s talk “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” (which I assure you is one of the most hilarious talks I’ve ever watched), you’ll find that he puts forth excellent arguments and raises highly logical questions about how our education system works (or doesn’t work, would be a better way to put it). I highly encourage you to watch this video if you haven’t already done so.

I’m talking about something quite similar here. I see the education system as a “McDonalidised” feature of modern society. I believe Ken Robinson talks about something similar in his talk. What I mean by this is that the education system has been developed to mass produce workers. And what happens with mass production? Every product looks and functions (or tastes) exactly the same, much like a McDonalds burger. The burger-making process is always the same, and is replicated all around the world, much like our education system.

When I was 15, my father handed me a book on investing and I thought “Gee, thanks, could there possibly be anything more boring?” However, I did end up reading the book and it changed the way I saw self-education. I had never thought that investing could be so interesting! I had been expecting a text book-like approach to the writing and that wasn’t the case at all!

I began to read more and more books on the subject, educating myself through videos and articles and finding out everything I could about the investing styles of people like Warren Buffett, Benjamin Graham, Peter Lynch and numerous other giants.

Enter university classes

I liked the topic of investment so much that I decided that I wanted to pursue a finance degree. Almost instantly, I regretted the choice. The way my college classes were teaching me the exact same material was so mind-numbing that I was prepared to drop out. I was amazed! The exact same topics, presented in two vastly different ways. That’s all it was. I ended up hating what I was doing. In fact, I learned so much more by learning about investments myself, than I learned in a four-year degree.

As a result of this, I decided to ask others about how they felt about their university courses. I have a friend who is brilliant with electronics and mechanics and he is completing his engineering degree. He absolutely detests it.

“They’ve pretty much taken all the fun out of engineering and made it a weird bunch of formulas that you have to use to calculate an end result which you don’t quite grasp because it’s far too abstract and theoretical”

 This is what he said to me when I asked about how he felt. I was surprised. I would have thought that someone who was so good at understanding complex electronic circuitry and high-level mathematics would have no trouble with his course.

This isn’t an isolated case though. I’ve talked to people who study languages who used to love the language, those who study commerce, music, engineering, social sciences, etc. They all loved their field of study when they were doing it themselves and every single one of them agreed wholeheartedly when I said that university tends to kill your passion for any subject.

 As a side note, if you want to learn a language, the worst way to do it is by taking a formal course which starts you off with grammar. I’ll get into this in a later post, but for now, google Benny Lewis and check out his approach to learning languages ( I use it for French and it works). 

I discovered the problem, and a simple solution to go with it

The problem that schools and universities have:

  • They take all the application out of it and teach you with a very rigid structure (which is necessary for standardised testing, but those are a problem in and of itself).
  • They make it dull and boring with lectures that do not engage students and make students think critically about the topic
  • Text books drone on and on to give you the same amount of information one internet article can provide you in a single page.

There are of course some excellent schools and professors who make the effort to make their classes very interesting and I applaud them. However these are a minority, and I’m addressing the problems of the majority. 

The simplest solution to this is to give students something practical to do. Apply what you learn and learn while you create!

An example of this is to have engineering students build a working prototype using the knowledge they’ve acquired in class. With languages, the point is to be able to actually use it. With investing, you can practice with a virtual stock-trading platform. With mathematics, you can give students physical problems to solve using math! It’s one of the most applicable subjects in the world and yet schools make this unbelievably boring.

But wait! There are problems with this idea

I can almost hear the yells

  • “But that’s too expensive to implement!”
  • “There’s not enough time to get each student to do this for every thing they study in 3 years!”

Those are all valid arguments, but it doesn’t have to be expensive, and it doesn’t have to take much time! It can be incorporated in the outdated structure that is already in place.

We could start with the little things which make the biggest impact. For instance, assignments could be changed so they’re more practical. For example, finance students could have an assignment on a stock-trading platform and use analysis to make buy and sell decisions and write a report on that. Even just a single practical assignment can very much break up the monotony of the highly theoretical structures that universities implement.

There’s a lot more to be said on this topic, and I will go into more detail about this in my next blog post. I would love to hear your thoughts on all of this, so do leave a comment and tell me what you think or what your possible solutions are.

TL;DR

  • Education has become a standardised method of churning out workers
  • We have an antiquated system that lacks imagination and kills your passion to study
  • The reason is because the education system has a structure which is too rigid, and does not harness the power of using application.
  • Application could mean having engineering student build something by utilising the knowledge they learned in class, or finance students analysing a real-world company and making buy and sell decisions on a virtual stock-trading plaform
  • The possible problems are that it could be too expensive and too time-consuming to implement.
  • Possible solutions involve making smaller changes to start with, for example, making assignments more practical to break up the monotony of theoretical material presented in class.

 

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