5 reasons why you lost time in school

Clément Jean
Oct 24, 2017 · 7 min read

Everyone of us once heard or said : “I learned it at school long time ago. So, I don’t remember”. And, I don’t know about you but for me it’s a big problem. Why do we go to school if we don’t remember what we learned? Why do we keep spending around 15% of our life in it? I can understand arguments like: school enable you to grow and become adults. But, do we really need it? Don’t we have others solutions?

In a world in which the data flow is so huge and in which you need to adapt quickly to other technologies, we need to create better school to improve our students’ effectiveness. Our students are our future and we cannot let them live in the same situation as us. We want better future for them but also for us right ?

So before to start, I want to let you know that I’m not member of the current trend we can find on the web which tells you to not go to school and do your education by yourself. Even though I think you should not go to the current school system, I think you still need a good educational environment.

Let’s start now !

Same content for everyone at the same time

It’s the major problem in schools now. Why? Simply because we don’t have the same pace in learning. It means that slow learners need more time to acquire the knowledge and fast learners already acquired it and want to move on. To pass exams, slow learners will learn by heart the knowledges they need. But, after the test the knowledge will be removed from their head because it is considered as not useful anymore. For the fast learners, they will have the same problem of losing knowledge after the test but this is easier for them because they don’t really have to learn it by heart. They understood the concept. As you noticed, exams are the ending point of the knowledge. This is mostly due to another problem I will explain you in the next part.

In his TED talk, the founder of khan academy, Sal Khan explain a really important point. He explains that the current system works with a cycle of lectures and homeworks. Then there is a test and after the test comes the grades. These grades reflect a lack of knowledge (except if you have full grade). What’s next? We continue to add some knowledge on it without caring about the gaps. That’s the moment Sal Khan do an analogy. The analogy is the following :

“We bring in the contractor, and say: ‘we have two weeks to build the foundation, do what you can’. So they do what they can. Maybe it rains, Maybe some of the supplies don’t show up. And two weeks later the inspector comes, looks around, says: ‘OK, the concrete still wet over there, that part is not quite up to code, I’ll give it an 80 percent’. You say: ‘Great, that’s a C, let’s build the first floor.’”. I let you watch the end of the story by yourself but you understand how dumb it is. That’s what happening and you keep pushing yourself (as a student) or your children (as a parent) to go to current school because that’s what is good for you/them in your opinion.

Tests as an end

As I explained previously, students generally forget after their test. Why? This is because the system make you feel like you just need to learn just for the test. With sentences like: “You’ll be evaluated on this during the test” or “It will not be on test”, you push student to select what they need to learn to please the teachers but also their parents. Unfortunately, selecting knowledge creates gaps and leads to partially acquired knowledge. This is why after the test, the students don’t find the ideas relevant. And so, as their brain wants to keep storage only for useful things, it will be erased. 15% of your life time for just some exams, seriously? Then, students become adults and realize that they actually learned nothing really important from a lot of years and that’s a lot of people prefer their work as school. It’s because their work is concrete, it doesn't focus on a test at a certain time. In their work the test is continuous and that’s why they learn a lot during the work years.

The students could have some interest in what they learn if they were able to understand how it helps instead of just learning it for the next exam. But it could be only done if the system implement a continuous test and if students would be able to practice what they learn in real life.

Too much theory, not enough practice

To remember what you learned, you need to understand the general concept but also to put an image on it. Do you think learning by heart will help you understand how you can use a particular law in a real life situation? I’m sure you said no and you’re right. What’s missing in schools is the possibility to practice for real the knowledge. If I want to learn how to make a plant grow, why don’t I just try it ? Of course, it need to be based on theory because first it would not be optimal to try all the beverages you have in your fridge. And it also needs previous theory because we don’t have the time to build, from scratch, all the knowledge our ancients scientists found. But, by practicing, trying and observing the students would be able to think by themselves and not by just reciting a law they learned by heart.

In schools, you maybe noticed that everything is divided in a fixed number of teacher for a fixed number of students in a fixed number of rooms. It creates some problems to be able to experiment what you learned. Let’s imagine you learned something in biology but you don’t have the background in physics ( can be because you didn't have the related class or because you have problem to learn it). Do you think the teacher wants to risk an explosion or something which can be dangerous? Even if the teacher is leading the experiment, don’t you think that a student who thinks is doing the experiment correctly can create a bad situation?

Non construction of links between topics

We all know the system of classes by topic right? A class for maths, a class for biology, a class for physics and a class for chemistry. These classes are lead by different teachers who barely communicate and who, when they have time to communicate, talk about other subjects than school subjects. Obviously, the topic I listed above have some common points but instead of synchronizing lectures to make all the subjects more understandable, the teachers just tell you: “it’s important in life so learn it” instead of saying something like: “I know it’s important in physics and you’ll see why on the next physics class”. Wouldn't it be more appropriate to make them discover why it’s important in life and make them understand the links between knowledges in our world? I don’t know you but for me, making links between two things is the most enjoyable moment in my life and this is definitely the essence of learning.

This lack of communication between teachers result in a non construction of links between knowledges. You’ll learn something in maths but that knowledge will be isolated and meaningless. You’ll not see the point of keep learning and say something like: “I will never use it in my life so why do I learn it?”. I did some surveys and each time 90 % of the room told me that they already thought like this.

Create an inappropriate mindset

The school as we know it, creates a lot “good at remembering” students but not good a thinking by themselves. And as we saw previously it’s because they didn't really have the chance to understand what they learn but also to learn how to learn. Too much students are not curious when they are at school, for them, it’s just normal to learn this automatically. Unfortunately, Curiosity is the best skill they can have in their life. Asking questions is the first step to getting answers. How can I know that a certain rule in mathematics can help me in life if I don’t ask myself the question? After reading some books about the future I found out that a lot of people where talking to improve our brain memory capacity but not our observations to these knowledge. The difference between a robot and us (for now) is the fact that we can ask questions to ourselves. For me it looks like schools is just creating a robot army. Robots can already pass some big exams without problems and this in short time so why do we keep teaching student as if they were not human, as if they were not able to ask themselves questions?

To conclude, I want to let you know that I understand it’s easier to reject fault on other so don’t send me comments like: “we don’t have alternatives” because I know this and this is not your fault. I’m working to make new solutions available so don’t attack me and please give me your support. I wrote this article because I’m looking people to help me build a better way to teach our future scientists, our future artists and our future politicians. I’m currently looking for developers but anyone who is ready to help can join the team.

My project is to create a new kind of school based on computer lectures and tests but also to change the role of teachers in a tutor role. I’m developing an algorithm which can redirect you to what you need to learn at a certain point and the aim is to help student build strong knowledge. The solution will be 100% based on the needs of students and in that way everyone can learn at their pace. The slow learners will not get rejected anymore and the fast learners will not feel bored. For the tutor part, this is not an actual need but once again if you can help please talk to me.

Feel free to contact me on Wechat: clementjean or by email: clementjean13@gmail.com. I’m looking forward to give you a speech about my ideas and tell you more about the project.

Clément Jean

Written by

I’m an eternal learner, I love to read, improve myself and get into challenges. Take a look at my personal website: www.clement-jean.github.io



Education and new technologies should be able to give something good in the future.

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