WHY EDUCATION HAS FAILED TO SOLVE PROBLEMS

“Indefinite attitudes to the future explain what’s most dysfunctional in our world today. Process trumps substance: when people lack concrete plans to carry out, they use formal rules to assemble a portfolio of various options. This describes Americans today. In middle school, we’re encouraged to start hoarding “extracurricular activities.” In high school, ambitious students compete even harder to appear omnicompetent. By the time a student gets to college, he’s spent a decade curating a bewilderingly diverse résumé to prepare for a completely unknowable future. Come what may, he’s ready — for nothing in particular.” — Peter Thiel

After a long light of coding and intermittent naps, I decided to lay on my bed this morning just before a friend of mine came around. We had a long chat and at some point, we delved into the topic of Education.

Education, they say is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world, but are we actually leveraging on this?

The world we live in today, especially in Africa has gotten Education all wrong. We have dwelt on a model that has repeatedly failed in creating solutions to world problems; all that we get after the commencement ceremony is a huge number of unemployed youths, competing for similar jobs.

The world, as we all know has evolved and in this age of information, knowledge is on the exponential increase just as technology seeks to tackle problems in several bodies of knowledge today.

At the most basic level, the aim of education is to solve problems. Not to create a living or shelter — all these arise out of the purpose of solving problems.

From my standpoint, I think the aim of education has been defeated because the knowledge we impart is to be applied, to solve problems the world is currently faced with.

Therefore, as problems evolve, the means to solve problems must also evolve. Now, this is where we have missed it — The world is changing rapidly, but the model of education isn’t.

We use old curricula and dwell on the same content that was used 30 years ago — Obsolete knowledge. This is one of the problems our model of education has created today.

Little wonder why most inventions that have defied laws and caused disruptions emanated from people that have broken out of the conventional means of education and taken a more promising path that they have deemed fit for themselves. People most of us call “drop-outs”.

The second problem our model of education has created is the confined, one-way structure that says a students should study a specific course for a number of years before graduating and getting a degree.

This approach to education has limited our innate nature of creativity. We explore less because we have been confined to one method of doing things, for three, four, five years and we know nothing else but all that’s been given to us in class, all that’s contained in the syllabus.

What the school just succeeded in doing is creating another carbon copy of 200 students going into the world to fight for the same set of jobs.

Again, this does not solve the problems currently faced in Accounting, Finance, Mechanical Engineering, Medicine or whatever the course may be but it only compounds it.

What if we made the structure flexible such that as a student, I can take courses in other disciplines and create my own syllabus based on what I think I need to thrive or create a successful career for myself.

This opens us up to more options, broadens our thinking and makes it possible for us to apply a dynamic approach to solving problems. Today, technology is having its place in other bodies of knowledge, adding value and making life easier for humans. We have human psychology in technology, we use colors to make technology appealing to people.

Today, we are coding DNA sequences, We apply biological phenomena to solve engineering and technological problems; some aspects of Artificial Intelligence — the likes of Artificial Neural Networks, Genetic algorithms, and Swarm Intelligence, just to mention a few — were generated from biological concepts and they’re doing great.

We have well-optimised algorithms used in network infrastructures, data transfer, and storage mechanisms today due to these explorations.

The potential of education is limitless and until we leverage on it, accept the fact that the model in use today can be changed (because it was created by someone), and make efforts to addressing the problems we are currently faced with today, we will never get it right.

So, what do you do as a person to avoid being confined by the illusion we call education today? Explore, learn new things, not necessarily in your discipline. Try something different, chart a learning curve for yourself that branches into other disciplines and set your focus on solving problems. I also advise you watch this TED talk by Ken Robinson

Have Fun!