The Disincentive in Education Is Its Theoretical Approach to Learning and Its Refusal to Connect to Reality

Some of you may know that I run a technology and liberal arts camp in Beijing in the summers.

But what you probably don’t know is the philosophy behind it. I am not sure I can articulate the entire philosophy, for to do so would be to take a long time going back into my past and talking about my failures as a teacher, or my discomfort with the way education is structured.

But I have been thinking a lot lately about a new way to teach, not because teaching is bad, but because the world is so much more closely married to tech these days, and the ensnaring problems that causes all of us.

Everyone knows what an iPhone with data connectivity is, which is why everyone knows what Mobike is and why its useful. We are following in the footsteps of the technology we are creating.

This is about education and it’s role, so if you are with me on these things, I would love to hear your thoughts.

1. Technology innovation and engineering are no longer the only technical skills we need to be teaching, and we are doing a great disservice to students by teaching them an isolated and theoretical-only version of technical skills. We are not teaching them humanism and humanistic philosophy as a technical skill. This is the missing element.

2. Humanist philosophy and its practice, need to be taught as a technical skill precisely because most of the value generation in companies and most of the most important changes to society are happening because of and on top of a read/write web.

3. You can no longer isolate technology from humanism. They are a marriage, because of how intimate we have become with the available technology.

4. School teaches students the way teachers teach, and what is missing in school is a true practitioner’s careful strategy of learning how to be good at a thing, because teaching as an art in school takes way too much time out of a person’s day for that teacher to be good at both the practice and the theory of the taught subject. So theory it is.

5. Here’s the other issue: because it’s theory that is taught — because it’s the best way to make the learning assessable and accessible as a measurable outcome — you are actually disenfranchising students from a career path of immediate growth, because you are stalling their development.

So, is there a way to make teaching and learning synonymous with doing? Yes, there is. And that is what we are seeing in the technology and humanism classes that we teach in Beijing.

We will now be running more of those camps (micro and bigger longer programs) in Beijing, and then opening up one for San Francisco.

Kids will get intimate lectures on engineering and technology, in Mandarin and English

I won’t be able to share the entire plan with you here, but in the coming months, we will have a lot of news to announce.

Maybe you can visit this site, and if you know of a secondary school student who speaks Chinese, and would be eager to join such a program, you can have them apply.

It’s time that we put our education where our mouth is and build something for students that actually makes them doers, builders, and makers of our civilization, rather than followers and obedient employees of an existing system that keeps them away from the innovation practices that makes them joyful and helpful to the world.