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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aschneider

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…..

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    Jaammiiee

    Have you got any paper you can indicate to me that you have published about these views you have ? this is very interesting and i really like you views

    Reply
TejaSunku

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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ClarenceM11

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Passion – A Difference Maker (Part 4 of 4) | Angela Maiers, Speaker, Educator, Writer

[…] can choose to make a BIGGER difference by transmitting and sharing our passions with students. Here are some questions to get you […]

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PG

Education systems have failed the majority of citizens in the world , as they have failed to recognise that everyone is an individual and develops at different at times and at different speeds . The education systems and people in charge have taken the easy way out by saying everybody should develop at the same rate and at the same time , they are the ones who should be sent back for education to understand biology and the human race .
Also many governments and politicians do not believe that education for the young is an investment for the future , many see it as competition to their ideas and their status .

People of this world should take back control of their education systems and make ministers , and school leaders accountable for their decisions and actions , if necessary with legislation and punishment .

In addition education systems in general are teaching people more and more about less and less , in this way people cannot think out of the box , are inflexible , and know very little about this world and are incapable of taking rational decisions .

The idea of private schooling and paying for education is another example of the control by the rich over the education of younger people and is unacceptable.

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Andrew Geng

The amount of similarity between us is…… uncanny. I always hated the “forced learning” education system. I have 2.7 gpa, I also happen to be a high school student in Shanghai, China ( SMIC private school). I now attend Jiaotong university and I still despise the system we are in.

I would like to show some of the emails I relayed between Rochester institute of Technology…regarding my rejection letter.

I am very saddened by the rejection, I really wanted to go to RIT and as you can see that by the exclusive video that I made for RIT (I believed I demonstrated competency in my understanding of electronics). Ever since I came across engineering technology on RIT’s website “ If you learn through hands on experience, engineering technology is right for you” I was struck by how much this major in RIT suits me. I suppose my grades are not up to par with the accepted candidates, but this is only because my love for inventing is so permeated through my life, that it distracted me from my schoolwork, though at RIT studying engineering technology I will be able to live for the reason i was distracted in the first place; being able to study what I wanted to do but couldn’t for the longest time! I know from my previous high school ( SMIC PRIVATE SCHOOL) many candidates were accepted to RIT with their beautifully polished essays and diverse extracurricular activities, but none of them actually attends RIT, to them RIT is just a safety school to cushion their fall if they get rejected by their target and dream schools. Me? though it may have been a very stupid thing to do at hindsight, but I only applied to RIT and nowhere else it is my dream school. Seriously, I have no other college to go to at this moment. I never had a girlfriend but I am already in love, with RIT’s the school environment, the SAE formula racing team, and the way the students said “everyone at RIT are nerds and geeks.” It felt like a big happy family and I want to be a part of it, the imagery of being with my fellow nerds and geeks makes me jitter with excitement. Please re-evaluate my application, I never felt I wanted something so badly in my life.

( Applying for engineering technology)
Regarding my GPA, when I was in middle school ( Presidio middle school, California) I made it to the honour roll every single year, but after I graduated and moved to China for high school, the disparity of difficulty began to appear. SMIC is a particularly difficult school in terms of math and sciences, I try very hard to keeping up. I was always quite conflicted about my talents and teachers also were puzzled by why I can build such intricate things. The way I looks at it, every school is different in the levels of difficulty, it would be rather unfair to judge the GPA though a non standardised way. My SAT score and SAT score for math is right along the range of the applicants RIT accepts, so I believe there is a great chance. I have talent for Engineering Technology, I am more than just numbers on a piece of paper, the things I can invent cannot be done by applicant who have the best grades ( as you can tell from my video). Its the path I knew ever since I could remember, I am the type of person that would truly appreciate the opportunity given to me and in the future I will give back. Please re-evaluate my application.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9j3HaGSRnig&feature=youtu.be

Sincerely,
Andrew Geng

Response: When reviewing an application for engineering technology degree programs, we take a look at a student’s overall GPA with a stronger emphasis on their math and science scores. We had concerns about your high school math/science grades and your lack of math/ science coursework in college thus far. We typically recommend taking coursework within an engineering science associates degree program and maintaining a GPA of 3.0 or higher. I would encourage you to take college level physics or chemistry and algebra/trigonometry. Once you‘ve successfully completed that coursework, I recommend that you reapply for admission at that time.

Sincerely,
Admission

( applying for Business and marketing)
I want you to see my drone business, http://xinchejian.com please scroll down to the 3rd project. I rented a space in a hackerspace to promote my project. I used its open nights to do some marketing, such as showing off the drone’s capabilities, elaborating the pleasurable experience of building, and etc. last week, I have made 4800 rmb ( 775 dollars) in revenue. The kit costs 1600rmb ( 257 dollars), and I made a profit of 900rmb (145 dollars) including the workshop fee, I have understood the crucial elements required to star a business, marketing, target audience, pricing and its effect on sales. The drone’s materials are sourced the parts from ShenZhen, China. Over there I learned how to negotiate prices, and find the best quality parts. I am expecting up to 13,200rmb next week ( 2127 dollars) in revenue, and 7320rmb ( 1179dollars) in profit. This business of mine is taking off in an very fast speed, in 3 days I was able to make more money than most college educated employees in one month, and by next week where more people will buy my product I will be earning more money than most employees in 4 months. (China monthly urban average wage in the most developed city in China, Shangahi is 2892rmb, or 466 dollars. Source: http://www.ihlo.org/LRC/WC/071008b.html)
I am now completely independent financially, and I no longer receive allowances. This has been an amazing week, I hope can see my talents in business and marketing.

Response : I am sorry that we cannot admit you. We recommend that you continue to take courses at your current college and you may reapply to RIT at a later time.

Sincerely,
Admission

( I relayed back and forth 20 some emails, after showing them all this content I was still rejected due to the grades. So finally I decide it was not worth it, even if I got in I still won’t be able to be happy because RIT like most universities out there ONLY CARE ABOUT GRADES. My quest to find that perfect place for me is not over yet, i am applying to BCIT see how it goes. Oh, and for fun I sent them an email to bid my goodbyes.)

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Andrew Geng

Goodbye letter

I am very saddened by the rejection, I really wanted to go to RIT and as you can see that by the exclusive video that I made for RIT (I believed I demonstrated competency in my understanding of electronics). Ever since I came across engineering technology on RIT’s website “ If you learn through hands on experience, engineering technology is right for you” I was struck by how much this major in RIT suits me. I suppose my grades are not up to par with the accepted candidates, but this is only because my love for inventing is so permeated through my life, that it distracted me from my schoolwork, though at RIT studying engineering technology I will be able to live for the reason i was distracted in the first place; being able to study what I wanted to do but couldn’t for the longest time! I know from my previous high school ( SMIC PRIVATE SCHOOL) many candidates were accepted to RIT with their beautifully polished essays and diverse extracurricular activities, but none of them actually attends RIT, to them RIT is just a safety school to cushion their fall if they get rejected by their target and dream schools. Me? though it may have been a very stupid thing to do at hindsight, but I only applied to RIT and nowhere else it is my dream school. Seriously, I have no other college to go to at this moment. I never had a girlfriend but I am already in love, with RIT’s the school environment, the SAE formula racing team, and the way the students said “everyone at RIT are nerds and geeks.” It felt like a big happy family and I want to be a part of it, the imagery of being with my fellow nerds and geeks makes me jitter with excitement. Please re-evaluate my application, I never felt I wanted something so badly in my life.

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Andrew Geng

Sorry that wasn’t the good bye letter.

this is:

After all these emails displaying my talents surmounts to nothing in the end. Grades… an account of points earned through various activities that are influenced by artificial deadlines, grade inflation, extra credit, and subjectivity. Grades are inherently meaningless in the real world, which everyone of us will inevitably meet. It is the main cause of student who just graduated to say “ what now?” because for the most part of their educational careers they followed a systematic, ordered formatted on how to get good grades instead of actually learning and applying the knowledge in the real world. The thing that initially attracted me towards RIT was its emphasis on practicality but only now did I realise that this is not the case because practically, RIT would accept me because I can be successful AT LIFE. Practically, RIT would take me because I am already succeeding in both areas of Business and Technology. Grades are predicators of success? I have those proof of success in a another form, that is far more convincing than grades. I am not going to wait one more year, 365 days or 8760 hours, because as an individual with talent, independent-thought, and ambition, one year is far too valuable for me to earn a place in a school that cares about grades above all else. Good day, RIT. You will see me again, on Forbes Magazine.

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SS

I would suggest that your problem isn’t really the school system or education, but in fact the people who run it. It is largely composed and operated by a generation of misfits and fools, known as the baby boomers, who neither understand themselves properly or other people. How on earth can you hope to be a teacher or run a system of teaching if you don’t even understand yourself first?

Education itself is not there to inspire you. It is a system designed to elevate your capacity and provide you with the tools to improve your standard in life. Teachers are the generators of inspiration and passion, and unfortunately many are in the profession for selfish reasons or because they thought it might be easier than a regular job.. couldn’t handle adults, so they’ll bully children instead.

Dilution of quality, in terms of final academic achievement, is an issue. There are simply too few schools, good quality teachers, and jobs available at the end of the process.. no one in the baby boomer generation is doing anything to rectify any of those issues, and instead the buck is being selfishly passed on to their children.

“Get good grades, or you will stack supermarket shelves.. the more updated version being ‘or you will be unemployed'”.

Don’t blame the education system itself. You need to see it IS a good thing and has potential to be so much greater, and we should be fighting for that.. for the sake of our unborn children. Place the blame where it really belongs; with our parents and policy makers who have allowed the education system to disintegrate so rapidly in just one generation.

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Awere

Education is a key component of human developmet, this is not limited to classroom theoretical lesson but must be all encompassing. education system must be result practical oriented which must prepare individuals for life long challenges.

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Steve

Bud,

I am an educator, have been for some time now. I work diligently every single day to get students to understand exactly what you have just written. The “academic knowledge” you learn throughout school is not what you will take with you through your life. No one will ever ask you to solve a calculus problem, or explain the nitrogen cycle, or quote a line from a famous work of literature. The true value of our current education system is learning discipline, cooperativeness, timeliness, and how to function socially with your peers. That being said, you are (or at least sound like) a very educated person. Maybe not because you got good grades and were a “model student”. YOU understand how the world works, or at least have a plan on how to attack it. The unfortunate thing is, YOU, and other others like you only make up a small percentage of our current national student population. Too many students, left to their own accord, will not choose to learn and better themselves, but will instead spend their time doing things that have no purpose and will not benefit them as adults. You read books. Others will play video games, spend their entire lives on social media, watch mind numbing television shows (if I had a dollar for all my middle and high school students who still watch spongebob……), and overall waste their short time as a young person with no real responsibility. What then happens to them as adults? What role do they play in our society? As you continue to grow and learn as an adult, you will learn that people, void of education, become a drain on our society. They eat up tax dollars. They ruin our local and national economy. They become criminals and overpopulate our prison system (once again eating up tax dollars). Worse, they reproduce (typically more than the average American) and have children who they do not know how to educate. It becomes a wash, rinse, repeat cycle! And it is getting worse as the years move on.

Which brings me to this. I agree that our education system is broken and does not meet the needs of all young people. What is your solution? How can you fix it? What changes need to be made? What can be done to motivate students who don’t want to learn? This is the goal of your generation. A generation who by all standards, struggles to read, write, and understand science concepts as well as the rest of the civilized world. A generation who never holds themselves accountable for their faults and failures, but makes excuses about who’s fault everything is (have you seen the news?). It is a daunting task, one the people like you will have to overcome.

For now, mainstream school introduces young people to a wide variety of things. Some they may like, some they may not. Some they may be good at, some they may be bad at. But somewhere in there, maybe they find that one thing that inspires them to move forward and have that career, that success you talk about. I will leave you with this quote.

“If you don’t want to learn, no one can help you. But if you want to learn, no one can stop you.” If more people wanted to learn, maybe you would not find school to be such a horrible place.

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Sneha George

WOW! Please marry me. I have never related to something more than this. If you don’t mind me asking can I ask you where you are in life now and how you are doing? Everything you stated is EXACTLY what I’ve been saying all along. I’m in awe. Thank you so much for proving me to not be alone in my thoughts and struggles. This is truly the most uplifting reading. I wish that instead of saying all of this WE, the students, could actually make a change occur.

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a.y

I had the same experince as you. we get valued by our grade and if you get f you have to retake the subject in the next semester. even the teachers emphsise the importance of the exam and how to get an a my university years were about how to study not how to learn but thankfully I had a teacher from America her name was Ms. Barbra and she told us “I will give you an a but I want to see you improving” she is the first one who teached me how to learn not how to study .

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Sebastian

Amazing article. I agree wholeheartedly

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Sam Guevara

Oh my word this article is amazing. I’m literally highlighting every other paragraph. You speak for so many students out there so well. I’m starting a paper on why our system is failing and you betcha this will get cited.

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Lance G

If you’re further interested in this topic and have a few minuets on your hands, please listen to “Bored of Education” by Propaganda. Truly an echo of these ideas 🙂

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