Grading Academics: why school is failing the class

I love learning. It’s fun, enjoyable, entertaining, and valuable. From superheroes to French bistro, there are an infinite amount of cool things to learn about.

School is not learning. School is a business. It receives money from students. The benefit from school is that it shows the world you can postpone fun things in order to get a degree. It shows you are motivated, dedicated, hard working, and resilient. But, it is not a place of learning.

“In Excellence Without a Soul, his 2006 book on the future of liberal education, Harry Lewis relates a conversation with three of his former students who had launched a highly successful Internet start-up. What in their computer-science educations had contributed to their success, Lewis wanted to know. There was an awkward silence, then one spoke up. “I really loved my computer-science education,” he said, “but I could have read books and learned a lot of that on my own. The thing that was really valuable was running the Quincy House Grill.” Lewis explains: “He’d had to get people to show up on time, and make sure there was enough hamburger ordered the day before—but not too much, or he’d have to waste it, and that would cut into his profit margin. He took all this stuff and combined it with his technical skills to become a very successful entrepreneur.”

This quote is from the article Nonstop, written in Harvard Magazine. The students in the conversation were Harvard students. It’s a great article to read, as it goes into the current undergraduate lifestyle situation. I have long questioned the allocation of time for school. After writing a particular assignment on schools negative effects to a quality life, I received a few arguments from the professor. She stated that there are things you learn in school, so it can not be a complete waste of time. I agree. There are a few things. Reading, writing, basic math, although I believe there are a few schools that don’t even do that. Anyways, my annoyance with the time spent on schooling is the amount of time wasted, not on the small amount of time spent doing something worthwhile.

When I obtained my degree, I had a job in the same career as my classes. The amount of worthwhile material I learned through the years, could have been taught in a week. The other skills, public speaking, organization, team building etc. were not developed in the classroom. I got a little practice, but the skills I have are from my own efforts outside of class. If I had not personally pushed myself, I wouldn’t have these skills.

I understand the historical use for school. When something called the internet didn’t exist. People didn’t have access to information, they couldn’t walk into a new career field, or learn a new language. That was the service school provided, but it has become obsolete.

“According to experts, the Internet and wealth of developing technology provide young people outside of education with a sense of “openness, connectedness, personalization, and participation” that is simply not found at the university level today. Those experts indicate that for America to move forward, higher education will need to better align itself with the rest of society.”

Take the Harvard student, the most important thing he learned in order to successfully run a business, was from his days working at a burger joint. The rest of the materials were easily available to learn on his own. This is what people can do nowadays. School simply takes a longer, less personal, and more costly approach (and by longer I mean 20-30 years). Most students also have knowledge in their career field. I had experience in mine, and knew most of the common knowledge topics being discussed. Then there were classes on things that don’t apply, you’ll never use, and could be summed up in 5 minutes. Yet hours and hours, and months and years and years are spent on an outdated service.

I don’t remember much from lectures, but I remember this funny clip from class. Watch below for a helpful illustration of my point.

Good Luck out there

Harvard Magazine – Nonstop: Today’s superhero undergraduates do “3,000 things at 150 percent.”
http://harvardmagazine.com/2010/03/nonstop?page=all
Survival of Higher Education
http://www.openeducation.net/2008/08/12/higher-education-dangerously-close-to-becoming-irrelevant/

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This entry was posted in Academics, advice, best years, classroom, college, Professors, your life and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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