Can you recall, how were the telephones 100 years back ?
Something like this right.
Now, think about the phone we use today.
Drastic change right. This is the obvious sign that how fast human civilization is prospering. Not only with telephone, if you look at other things (pictures below) also, you will realize how far we have come.
Now look at another scenario. How were the classrooms in earlier days?
And how do they look now?
Now compare both the classrooms.
Except some technological advancement (like the use of powerpoint) not much difference is there right. The way students perceive and learn in school, college and universities are still the same. Some people say-
“Education is the backbone of the society, nation, world.”
We are progressing in almost every aspect of our life. Making our lives more comfortable, smooth. Then what happened with our backbone? Why our backbone still remains the same as it was a century before?
Maybe we should ask the question in a different way. Does the education provided to us in school, college or universities serve the purpose, what our society or world needs today?
To know this answer in a deeper sense, we must go back to know why even we need school or colleges? And how did all this started?
Earlier, when humans used to live in jungles, children learned what they needed in order to become effective adults and survive. They learned this trick and tools from their social groups which taught them to make weapons, hunt and finding life-sustaining resources. That’s all education meant in those times.
Around 4000 years ago schools first emerged in societies. Near 3000 BC, the Mesopotamians and Egyptians created structured education for the advancement of society with the intent to provide moral teachings and religious instruction.
Many civilizations after that like ancient Greeks and Romans used to teach their young fellows how to read, write and prepare them for the future. After the Roman empire fell there schooling system became the model of European schooling.
In India, early schooling starts from Vedic age (1500 C.E. to Early Medieval Age). In ancient India, the schooling system was known as ‘Gurukul’, where pupils used to come and stay with the teacher (guru) from an early age. The pupils reside in the forest at their teacher’s residence and live a simple life as celibates till the completion of their education.
The purpose of education at that time was- self-control, development of character, Social awareness, personality development, propagation of purity. It was a journey from mortality to immortality, from chaos to spiritual bliss.
If you have observed carefully, irrespective of the civilization be it Greek, Indian, Egypt everywhere the sole purpose of education was same.
It was for the advancement of society. Pupils were educated so that they can prepare themselves and contribute to the betterment of society.
The purpose of education perhaps remains same. However, the question remains same as I raised before.
Does today’s education system prepare us for the future? Is it even relevant in the context of today’s world?
If you think about the industrial age, which was somewhere between eighteenth to nineteenth century, today’s education system might seem relevant. In those times one needed a huge workforce to work in industries. Industries needed trained people to work.
But the scenario has changed today. We are living in the digital age today. Industries don’t need a large number of trained people today. Technology is replacing those trained people. Artificial intelligence like robots has already started working in many industries.
But sadly, we still teach at our educational institutes, how to become that trained employee.
Doesn’t those bureaucrats of those educational institutes know that the world has changed and so are the demands?
The world has become skill oriented instead of just degree oriented.
Probably this is the scariest time for colleges and universities. Why am I saying this?
There has been a tremendous change of mindset of the biggest companies of the World at this time. Companies like Apple, Microsoft, Netflix, Facebook, Volkswagen, Walmart, and many others started valuing skills of their employees more than their degrees. Which means you can work in the most influential companies of the world without having an academic degree.
Apart from that, many companies have started their own universities to train and teach their employees.
This also means that what most of the academic institutions teach you is outdated and no longer relevant to this age. Moreover, what college and universities teach us is hard skills. But the demand for soft skills is increasing day by day.
Now, what are hard skills?
Hard skills are teachable technical abilities that are fit for a job and measurable. For example coding, writing, programming, learning math, marketing, designing, etc. are skills that are suitable for a job.
In contrast, soft skills are abilities that are not unique to any job but makes us a better human, leader or employee.
According to a survey by LinkedIn, employers nowadays value soft skills more than hard skills. Skills like good communication ability, critical thinking, problem-solving mindset, collaboration, leadership are in high demand today.
Unfortunately, college or universities don’t teach us most of these skills. They don’t teach us how to manage our finances, how to overcome our fears, how to become a better speaker.
On the other hand, online learning platforms like coursera, udemy, khan academy, edx, masterclass provide you all kinds of courses whether it’s about hard skills or soft skills. Expenses of these courses are also much less compared to college tuition fees most often.
Does that mean I am telling you to not go college or university?
No, That’s not what I am trying to tell you. It’s your personal choice. In a country like the USA, college expenses are really high. In rest of the world, expenses are still less.
All I am trying to tell you is, don’t rely on those institutes for your career or life. You are living in the digital age, not in the industrial age. So stop learning the way people used to learn in the industrial age. You can learn about any interests you have. Develop your soft skills along with your hard skills.
Remember in this era, the only person who can stop you from learning anything is you, no one else. A college or university degree will not make your fortune, it’s your skills which will.
In fact, homeschooling is becoming popular these days, CEO’s like Elon Musk to Asim Qureshi (CEO of Launchpad) are preferring homeschooling for their children instead of the conventional schooling system. It’s becoming more popular among masses also.
Whereas, creativity/innovation is in very high demand in today’s world. Conventional school system actually killing it by forcing students with assignments, tests, etc.
You must listen to this Ted talk by Sir Ken Robinson in this regard.
Think about your own experiences. What you have learned in your school, college or universities that’s helping you cope with the real world. Except the warm relations with your friends, I guess you hardly remember or learned anything from those tests/assignments after spending years after years. We need serious change there.
What would happen if a doctor prescribes all his patients the same medicine?
Results will be catastrophic right.
Then why schools/colleges treat every pupil the same way? Why everyone is forced to do the same things?
Someone said beautifully-
“A child’s mind is not a bucket to fill, but a fire to ignite”
Does our education system ignite that fire?
Ask yourself that.
It’s high time we think about the way we want to perceive education. If education is the backbone of a society, then we can’t let that backbone weaken or break. We must learn from countries like Finland, Singapore where children are encouraged to learn through experiences, homework/assignments are less so that they can get time to think, to imagine. School timings are shortened which allows students to explore more of their lives.
Just like it was in ancient civilizations, the purpose of education should not be just to make a living but to build your character (soft skills), to open up your heart and free your mind. Education should help you to realize the truths of life and prepare for a better future.
If your education is not helping you to lift your soul, to contribute towards the advancement of society, then it’s failing miserably.
The good thing is, in this digital age, school/colleges are not the only options to learn. You have a plethora of options if you really want to learn something. Remember what Jim Rohn said-
What are your thoughts on education?
Keep learning, keep growing.
Have a great week. Until next time -Joy
- System Failures: The Education System and the Proliferation of Reductive Thinking
- Education in India – Timeline of Indian Education System
- Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills: What’s the Difference?