Why Our Current Education System Is Failing

WARNING: This post goes against social conditioning and is particularly lengthy: read if you dare.

As my high school career is slowly coming to an end (I graduate June 11th) I have found myself particularly reflective on the value I have received from high-school.

I end my high school career with a sub-par 2.5 G.P.A ,having never received a prestigious academic award, and a quick glance at my attendance record would reveal numerous absences (OK 32 days just this year.)

If I listen to what I have been socially conditioned to believe:

Sub-par grades + no awards +  poor attendance = the end of my life

Right?

I beg to differ.

Chasing The A

For most of my life (along with millions of other students) I have been taught to believe that the secret to a successful life is to get outstanding grades. Slowly over the years however, I have discovered this premise to be completely false.

Luckily, over the past few years, I have been fortunate enough to immerse myself in a variety of empowering perspectives and thus have come to  understand that we are 100 percent responsible for our life.

We can be as happy and as successful as we choose to be. Our attitude, not our grades, determines our success.

I have been fortunate enough  to recognize that education goes beyond just the classroom. Life is our greatest mentor. Unfortunately,  I’m one of the lucky ones.

Myself, along with millions of other students, have failed to apply ourselves, not because we’re not smart enough, not because we don’t care about our future, but because we are tired of being dictated by a system of letters.

Continually brain-washing students into believing good grades are essential in living a successful life, has had some disastrous consequences:

Students are more stressed then ever. Cheating has become increasingly rampant. Students spend an excessive amount of time obsessing over getting perfect scores (after all they’ve been told they won’t have a job if they don’t.)

In fact, a classmate of mine  routinely stays up past 2 A.M in order to stay a float. Excessive? I think so.

What’s even more depressing about our current education system, is that it leaves millions of “average” students behind. Millions of kids with incredible potential are left to die (educationally speaking) never realizing their true potential.

Many of my current classmates, each of whom  could literally change the world, are paralyzed by fear, and are instead choosing the path of security: That is get good grades. Get a job. Be happy. Unfortunately that’s rarely how it unfolds.

We can live our purpose today.

I’m not suggesting that our current education system doesn’t do any good. It does teach us the basic necessities.  However, much of what we learn in school is not practical in the real world.

Where are the courses on blogging? Where are the money management courses? Where are the classes dedicated to eradicate poverty? Where are the classes that help us find our purpose?

Our current education system places too much emphasis on the A and not enough emphasis on unleashing the promise that lies in each and every one of us.

Education Through Reading And Experience

One of the most startling shortcomings of our current education system, is the lack of relevant reading. We are forced to read (A.K.A sparknote) ancient  text that we often find difficult to understand.

All this does is encourage a distaste for reading.

I’m not suggesting that ancient texts such as Shakespeare don’t have any value, however what the students read should be up to them.

“But wait! Then they will just be reading the latest trash.”

To which I reply ” Yes, but at least they will be reading.”

Our top priority must be to instill a passion for reading. The progress of humanity depends on it.

A number of my friends routinely say ” I hate reading”

And I always reply, ” You just haven’t found the right book.”

For reading to complement education like it needs to, the books we read must be relevant to us. Not our teachers, not our parents, but us. Each book should be likened to a puzzle piece completing our soul.

Our current education system is putting too much effort into things that don’t matter. Busy work. Perfect grammar.  Memorization. All of which does nothing for us 10 years down the road.

Over the past 4 years I have read close to 100 books. Only 15 of those books being school related.

Those 75 books (OK I’m rounding here) I read outside of school completely transformed me. My philosophy, my attitude, who I am today, all stem from the numerous books I devoured.

Education is about unleashing one’s confidence. Education is learning from failure. Education is growing from experience. Education is discovering your passions then pursuing them.

Education is not rote memorization. Education is not analyzing books that have no meaning to you. Education is not wasting your time on subjects you hate. Education is not being paralyzed because your afraid to fail.

Having attended an international school in Shanghai China, I can honestly say I have learned more from bringing running water to a rural village in China, traveling to Russia, and making friends from around the world, then I ever have in a classroom.

Education is meant to be enlightening. Reading and experience are the key.

Finding Your Purpose

Education is meant to help us find our passion, our purpose in life. Unfortunately, our current education system fails miserably.

We’ve been told:

You have to go to college to be successful. After that you have to go to grad-school. Make sure you get all A’s or you will fail.

Instead of embracing education many students (including myself) have adopted a mindset to just survive.

We’re so used to being told who we can or cannot be, many us don’t even know who we actually want to be.

All the education in the world is worthless if you never unlock what makes your heart beat.

Again, I have nothing against college or even grad-school for that matter. In fact I believe both can offer tremendous benefit to our being.

The problem lies in the fact that we’ve been told that you have to do this, you have to do that, in order to become successful.

Who says life has to be a linear line?

The traditional life time line:

High School: College: Grad-School: Job ( you most likely hate): Retire: Die

Why not:

High School: Find Your Purpose: Love Your Job: Live your life. Die Happy?

The latter sounds more enticing to me.

Education is all about growth,  it’s about experience, it’s about creating authentic relationships. It’s about being human. It’s about connecting with humanity.

Our current education system is inherently flawed. Times are changing. We must stop obsessing over becoming “book smart” and instead focus on unleashing our passions.

Without living out our passions we just add to the clutter of the world.

When we choose security, we sacrifice our passions, killing part of us in the process.

I have tremendous faith that the answers to today’s problems of the world: poverty, war, and disease, will be solved by the youth of today not because they are smart but because they follow their passions.

Enough Is Enough

I know I speak for millions of students around the world when I say:

We’re tired of being told we’re not good enough. We’re tired of doing mindless work that only adds stress to our lives. We’re tired of feeling unworthy just because we fail to meet the expectations of the A+ poster child.

We’re tired of being told who we can or can not be. Shouldn’t we decide that for ourselves?

We need to be inspired. We need to be encouraged. We need to spend time doing things we love. We want to change the world.

Is that too much to ask?

So many students fail to realize their potential because a simple grade tells them they have none. They receive a D and thus feel they are worthless and have nothing to contribute to this world. This defeats the whole purpose of education. Education is meant to build not destroy.

In no way am I suggesting getting good grades is a bad thing; that would be foolish. Getting good grades is not the problem. Allowing grades to dictate one’s life is.

Grades don’t guarantee success.

Passion + Determination + Positive Attitude = Success

I’ll give you an A if you transform the world  :-)

What are your thoughts on our current education system? What do you think must be done? I encourage you to share your comments in the comment section below.

It’s obvious our current education system needs major reform, until then however, it can proudly boast a fat D- on its fridge.

Editors Note: In no way is this post attempting to bash the educators of our world (whom I am eternally grateful for) but rather the education system as a whole.

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Comments

  1. says

    Bud,

    As a recent high school graduate I am in complete agreement with this post. Our education system here in the United States certainly needs to be reformed. I suggest that we base our classes on principles such as Truth, Oneness, Love, Peace, Change, and Creation. Our classes should lead students to find their own answers to questions they deem important. I have much more to say on this topic. Feel free to contact me. I am an 18 year old student and personal development blogger.

  2. says

    YES!

    I am so glad I found your site. I am sixteen years old and left school last November based on this premise. I created a blog around Youth Liberation; empowering youth to develop their passions, follow their dreams, and, if school got in the way, to quit it, and start living. I let it drop after a couple months because of certain circumstances, but I am now picking it back up again with the help of Jonathan mead’s Paid to Exist Program. For some reason I think you’re in it too, but I can’t be sure.

    Anyway, I felt totally validated when I read this post, especially from such a young, inspiring person (I like your goal about being financially independent by the age of 21)

    Keep rocking the boat!

    Cheers,
    Sage

  3. says

    It is great that you are questioning the system. So did I when i was a student and I have done quite a bit of teaching “out of the box”. (you can see it on my web site). Alas, those were small experiments which wanished into nothing because they were too brief.
    It seems to me that what has to transmitted today is not mere information (internet is full of it), but enthusiastic,loving attitude.Very few people have it, actually.
    I would love to organize a school together with a group of young people where students will be creativelly challenged in a variety of unexpected ways, and where each person will be looked upon as a human being above all. If anyone is interested, check up my web site and contact me, please.
    Lada

  4. Jaismeen Lamba says

    Hi, I really liked whatever is written in the post as i have always myself believed that grades are the most important thing in a students life without realising that this will one day leave me unsatisfied about what i am doing in lfe. today i feel i wish i had some one to tell me the real aim of education in life.If so,i am sure i would have been in a better position. but today i feel we should guide the students to help them realise the true potential in them.

  5. James says

    Although I agree that the system is failing, your grasp of what the core causes are, is loose at best. I’m certain that in the years since you wrote this you’ve changed your premises while still drawing the same general conclusion. Nevertheless, this was most interesting, however very flawed. My perspective on this, is that I earn straight A’s without much effort and still study various philosophies and read on my spare time. I would argue that if one is not able to understand ancient texts and is unable to do well in school they should strive to be at peace with being average or less-than-average. You obvious did not develop a “yearning for learning” while in high school, regarding its curriculum, and so I can understand your situation. However, I must point out that what you perceive as the problem only appears that way from your stand point (being average or less-than-average), and isn’t actually the fundamental factor that is causing our school system to crash. The factor is more along the lines of evolutionary theory (or at least, evolutionary theory is where we will resurrect our system). The fundamental problem with our schools is that they don’t teach along the same parameters we evolved to learn by. Our system is plagued by ignorance, not a faulty esteem-building assessment system such as grades.

    In addition, I just graduated from high school three months ago, so I am a long way away from grad school, but even I can tell you that grad school isn’t a place to go to if you think you are going to get a job you hate. Go to grad school to get a job you love.

  6. says

    YES YES YES!!!

    Ray Bradbury said, “I spent three days a week for 10 years educating myself in the public library, and it’s better than college. People should educate themselves – you can get a complete education for no money. At the end of 10 years, I had read every book in the library and I’d written a thousand stories. ”

    He also said, “You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”

    Too true today. People skim through the summaries to pass the test, and never understand the delight of literature. I hope to change that habit, one student at a time.

  7. Anti-School says

    Schools are failing because students are starting to realize just how worthless and corrupt it is. Take my high school for example. We cannot afford busses anymore, all students have to either walk (no sidewalks, rural) or have a parent take them. However our peice of Shite supperintendent (spelling) gave himself a 300,000 dollar raise, then scolds parents for not donating enough money during fund raisers. Not only this but NOTHING that we learn in elementary or high school actually applies to real life. I say that college is the only system that works. Schools are worthless and a waste of reasources. Lets end this nightmare of forcing innocent kids to endure PRISON. That is essenctially all schools are and nothing more.

  8. Anti-School says

    I’m anti-school, not anti-learning. I enjoy learning but the system makes it impossible to learn in school.

  9. says

    Oh god . . . I agree with you completely.

    I just finished ranting about how terrible my professor is, and the lack of enthusiasm in his method of teaching the class. We meet once a week and he lets us out an hour and a half early every time.

    At the end of the day I realized: we are in control of our grade; what we learn from the class and how; and not to depend on a professor who doesn’t care as much as the students care.

    It’s sad that professors like this are allowed to teach on a college level — especially to those who are interested and enrolled into a particular major.

    The school system is a joke, regardless of what town or state you’re from.

    It’s our job to educate ourselves, to better ourselves, and to create our own opportunities. No more relying on the professors who I thought were living up to their title.

  10. Yusuf says

    Thanks for this post i more than agree with this right now im in high school and they dont have the class that would make me a better mechanic i want to be a mechanic and all there is, is like woodshop or something i think this would help me but not make me more than average of it. Again thank you for this post it helped me with my school project.

  11. Jeff says

    I would have thought that I wrote this article because it is 100% true, and I am absolutely against the way the education system is set up.

    I always thought grades were important, so I always kept them high, but while doing so I learned they are basically a load of garbage, and having two parents that work in education I learned to hate the system even more, because they have become robots, controlled entirely by it, not understanding what life is like outside the world of school.

    Grades do not mean anything, they never will, if for some crazy reason I end up in a position where I’m hiring I won’t give the S*** about someones GPA, I’ll personally interview the candidates.

    Another thing I would like to add, that may have been slightly touched upon in the article is the fact that school is not about learning, it is abot placing kids in a group- either smart or dumb, and basing this off of regurgitated information that is immediately forgotten, and is useless outside of the school walls.

    Teachers need to teach, not grade.

    Homework is meant to blackmail those who don’t want to live a life dominated by school, and to “reward” those who fall into the social norm. Society is becoming robotic, and that ruins the unique life experience of the INDIVIDUAL.

  12. andrew says

    I love this post, i told my Dad i wanted to change the world…..he told me i lazy and crazy lol…..people now a days think no one can do anythin but get a job and die….

  13. Div says

    It’s almost like you took the words straight out of my head :) I completely agree with you. I think people should be hired for their true potential and their desire to achieve success, not based on a list of grades and tests. Education now has become more of a status than knowledge. ie. I can get into a certain college because I took certain classes, but learned little to nothing from them. It’s just information being crammed into our heads for a short period of time, quickly tested on, and then thrown away.

  14. Greenatic says

    I found your blog on a search for Bruce Lee quotes and then I look at this post. It’s all truth. And I’m not from USA, I’m from Europe, but is all truth. I quit school at 8th grade, yes, 8th grade. Today many people think I’m dumb, or just ‘quit life’, they can’t be more wrong. I learn much more out of the school system than in. Recently I realized that, one of my top hated disciplines at the school, history, it’s not so bad, I really start to search FOR MYSELF (not just because the teacher told me to do) and actually study history. I realize that our history book tell us a bunch of lies, but tha’ts other topic of discussion.
    If you take a bit of time to think, without pre-judges, you realize that school isn’t about learning, it’s about fit in this ‘everyone should fit’ society.

  15. says

    The same problem prevails all over the world. The young ones are cheated. I am trying my best to change the system of Education. Every child should enjoy what he or she is learning and they should have the right to select what they want to learn. Experts should teach and give their very best.

    Hope many will realize what they are been put through. It is only a few will have the eyes to see and the wisdom to understand.
    Thanks for raising a valued point.

    Pushpalatha

  16. phu nguyen says

    thanks sir…this is so true…and i’m sending this website to all of my teachers …i will try my best to spread the knowledge…if u think about the old education system like Plato, Aristotle etc..they teach the student the value of life…by doing that could bring prosperity to the world. :)) peace to y’all

  17. RaffeKarim says

    Goddamnt bro. I loved your article, it brings up the imporant things we fail to find out during our lives. I live in Norway and our public education sucks beyond any I’ve ever seen. We’re creating debt-slaves and boring jobs that have no meaning for life. I don’t seem to have found my  pupose. I wish to study International Relations but there are subject like math and biology that I hate, but I must go through them, even if it means getting D on those subjects. Life is as you said difficult and stressfull. Here I am learning things I am sure I won’t be needing in the near future.

  18. says

    What i love about this is how you outline this to the US Education system, when in fact this is the Western worlds education system. The UK Education system is just the same and all the students over here equally hate it. Every single paragraph is the same here and i too want this system changed.

  19. RenxingLiu says

    The education that you are talking about must be that of the US right? Can you imagine the system in Singapore which is very much influenced by the Chinese system…

  20. CathyOverholser says

    I found this whole conversation to be very relevant. I have 2 kids in college, one hates it, and the other one hates it but is forcing himself to do it anyway. I can always tell when he found a really good teacher because he talks about it all the time. The one issue no one sees a way around is the union. The union (which normally I agree is a great idea) has turned into the alternative for tenured professors. Some professors should be tenured, and the rest suck. Some suck really bad. One of my other son’s teachers decided to flunk him early on in the course because he didn’t follow every single rule she set out. That really pissed me off. There is a lot of that going on in schools. That means the focus of schools is what I told them both: it is a game of bullshit. It’s a game of priorities. You have to learn to figure out which teacher wants what and which one can wait. That part of school is very much like the real world. I told them both, school is a game you play because you think it will make you more sucessful, which it might, it depends on teh person. Some people find success because they make it happen, and half the students graduating from college are unemployed or underemployed. That means school is not a necessity in today’s economy, we just pretend it is. Since I spent most of high school trying to forget whatever the teacher was saying, and thinking more about my boyfriend, and working on my tan, I figure that’s about normal for 17 or 18 year old kids. I think whoever it was in this commentary that talked about the obsession with grades is correct. Why can’t all classes be taken with the option to take them pass/fail? Why does everything have to have a grade? Along that line of thinking, all my kids and myself have had teachers who started class by stating “Not one of my students have every failed my classes”. These teachers would spend as much time as they needed to with any “failing” student to find out why they were failing. Did they have a learning disorder? Are they raising all their brothers and sisters because their mother is working 3 jobs? These teachers would sit with these students and help them over and over again until they passed the class. Since the system has gotten to the point where that approach (called “teaching” is impractical, we need to start redoing the whole thing. And that is why we have so many alternative schools cropping up. I myself, kept my kids out of public schools as much as possible so I could spent less time fighting with the administration in the schools. I think we should listen to what the kids in schools are saying about school. They know what they need, and they have new creative ideas about how to do things. Otherwise, we are not really preparing them for the world, we are just continuing a stupid tradition that isn’t working anyway.

  21. rilyreally says

    Well said. I’m currently a second year university student who grew up throughout high school as the typical student chasing the A+. I got super great marks in high school, got awards, got into a prestigious university, feeling really great about myself. It wasn’t until recently that I started investing time into many “outside of school” activities where I was able to take my mind off of school and view life from a different perspective. It wasn’t until now that I have a better understanding of what life really is and started to question “Is my school actually worth it?” I started to think really hard about what I was truly getting out of my schooling, as well as the amount of money I had to throw into it every year. Luckily I’ve been able to open my eyes to see that school is really not worth it. There are so many more things in life that are more inspiring, motivating, in which I actually feel passionate about doing. School is probably one of the most un-inspirational places I know of and I feel like I’m completely wasting my time in most of my classes learning about things that have no meaning in real life. These were basically all the thoughts that I concluded myself before reading your blog. It wasn’t until today in which I explained to my dad why I hate the concept of schooling. We had an argument because he is the typical asian father who wants his son to succeed, aka do good in school. So I explained my thoughts about why school sucked and luckily he was somewhat understandable. But after saying all that I felt like I was the most rebellious person in the world. I felt like I had this super crazy new idea that only I believed in. I thought to myself that there had to be people out there that feel the same way as me. People who think our education system sucks. So I went on youtube and started to search “why our education system`. Then youtube`s auto-suggest suggested “why our education system is failing“ so I clicked on it and found a video that linked here to your blog. I just finished reading your blog and I feel exactly the same way as you do. Marks are not a measure of intelligence and school is not a measure of success is the way I like to put it. Im so glad that there are others out there like me that are able to think for themselves and not just follow what society has conditioned everyone to follow and believing that that is the only way to success.
     
    Cheers and thanks for the time to make this blog,
    Richard

  22. Nikhilnair93 says

    I’m sitting in a class I don’t want to be in, and reading you article. i agree with each and every word you said. I’m tired, and I’m only 20 years old. I’m trying hard to maintain a good GPA, get a good grade, but it’s just killing me. I’ve become increasingly anti-social, because I don’t know who to talk to. I have nothing good to talk about when it comes to college education, because it’s pointless; I can learn all those topics myself, but I need that degree so an employer will believe me when I say I know what I’m doing. I have to take classes that I find a waste of time, but I need to take it or else I cannot graduate. I need to pay thousands of dollars so for knowledge that I can find in a library; the only difference is that now you have someone regurgitating all the topics from textbook to you which we all can read for ourselves. I’m so annoyed, but still I dream to live to see the day when I’m done with college and do what I love to do. Yes, I’m a coward whose first priority is future security than my passion, but I’ve become this way over time because of what others have instilled in me.

  23. Nikhilnair93 says

    I’m sitting in a class I don’t want to be in, and reading you article. i agree with each and every word you said. I’m tired, and I’m only 20 years old. I’m trying hard to maintain a good GPA, get a good grade, but it’s just killing me. I’ve become increasingly anti-social, because I don’t know who to talk to. I have nothing good to talk about when it comes to college education, because it’s pointless; I can learn all those topics myself, but I need that degree so an employer will believe me when I say I know what I’m doing. I have to take classes that I find a waste of time, but I need to take it or else I cannot graduate. I need to pay thousands of dollars for the same information that I can find in any library; the only difference is that now you have someone regurgitating all the topics from textbook to you which we all can read for ourselves. I’m so annoyed, but still I dream to live to see the day when I’m done with college and do what I love to do. Yes, I’m a coward whose first priority is future security than my passion, but I’ve become this way over time because of what others have instilled in me.

  24. aschneider says

    I am in my 50s, and am somewhat of an expert in education and critical thinking–being a professor in a very good university in the Middle East. I am also American and have seen the US educational system devolve down into its present state from the 70s to now. You are correct in the essence of you conclusions. The way I put is that US education is failing to do the three jobs of public education: a) teach students the facts as we know them; b) teach rigorous critical thinking skills in order that students can solve problems well, make good decisions, and formulate good arguments; and c) teach a good work ethic where hard work, accomplishment, and earning are respected. All of these things add up basically to Citizenship Education. All of these things mean a population that knows how to think–and this is exactly what the power and money mongers who control the US DO NOT want–a population who can and will ask questions about what is fed to them. Notice how we have a congress and a president who accomplish nothing–and this has been true since the Bush administration. Our government accomplishes NOTHING but at the same time continues to charge tax payers more and more for doing less and less. US citizens now believe  or at least fail to oppose almost anything the US government / military / industrial complex tells (read “SELLS”) them—making the power elite in America incredibly wealthy and / or powerful. This is WHY the US educational system is as it is–to turn most US citizens into unquestioning and immobile sheep–endlessly arguing with each other over…..NOTHING…..

  25. TejaSunku says

    I know why our current education system is failing. Any psychologist will tell you to focus on the positives and less on the negatives. Our current motto for our education system is “No child left behind” which tells us that there are students who need to be improved and is somewhat of a negative message. Our motto for our education system should be something like “Every child moving forward” as this is a much more positive message and implies that we are capable of succeeding. Simply by changing our motto, we can improve our education system.

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