I write this article from 40-years of direct involvement in education at all levels from kindergarten to postsecondary, in several countries. Overall, it is an unmitigated disaster for the majority of citizens. It only favors a few elites who created it and work to keep it isolated. It is not surprising that Trump, who finally recognized this group politically, also speaks to their educational needs. These are people who barely exist in the minds of professional politicians or those controlling the academic world. The education system that the academics and politicians created doesn’t fit the nature of human intelligence or how that evolves during the growth of the child. It imposes education decreed and dictated by a small group who are escapees from the real world and have no idea what is relevant. This is proved by the comment people make when they say something is ‘purely academic.’ What they mean is that it is irrelevant to the real world. It does not fit or serve individual needs and therefore society loses.
Here are a few of the problems with the educational system they devised.
- It doesn’t prepare young people for the real world.
- It doesn’t fit the way the mind develops.
- It doesn’t allow in even basic ways for the vast range of talents, abilities, interests, or skills found in the human population.
- It doesn’t have mechanisms or ways of improving itself.
- It operates outside the control of society and only serves to perpetuate itself.
- It is designed to make students fail.
- It measures success only by those who reach the end, a university degree, but never cares about or investigates those who ‘drop out.’
The truth is only about 10% of the population should go to university or college. The other 90% don’t need to go because what they learn will not prepare them for the real world. In addition, they don’t have the type of thinking required to be an academic. For them, whether it is a university or a three or four-year college degree, it is simply grades 13, 14, and 15. Despite this, Americans spend billions sending their children to university or college. They do this because they are led to believe that this type of education is necessary to ‘get ahead’ in the society.
This came about because America allowed so-called ‘intellectuals’ to take over the educational system. It was effective because, as an immigrant nation of people from lower and middle classes in their home countries, they never had an opportunity to go to university. It was the preserve of the power elite; look at the arrogance and elitism of Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard and Yale. As a result, the politicians created a system that is useless for most of the people of middle America. Once established, this system perpetuates itself for the same reason professional politicians reject Trump. If you are a corporate executive or management, you usually get the job because you have degrees. This means if you hire someone without degrees and they can also do the job it devalues your degrees. It is the same reason professional politicians must attack Trump. If he can do the job, it underscores how bad they are beyond the corruption.
There are only two positive things I can say about any system in any country. First, they are so misdirected, misleading, and self-serving that students are successful in the purely Darwinian sense of survival of the fittest. They would succeed, regardless. Second, universities and colleges are a socially acceptable form of unemployment for at least 80% of the students.
Universities and colleges evolved at a time when only a few could afford to attend, and society realized that only a few needed the type of education they provide. The problem is, it is still only a few that need that type of education. In the meantime, societies realized, correctly, that they benefitted from an educated citizenry. Unfortunately, especially in the second half of the 20th century, the socialist thinking took over, and it was assumed that all students had equal abilities, and all should have equal access to the entire system from kindergarten through to college or university.
These are commendable goals, but they don’t fit the reality. People have a wide range of abilities and society has a wide range of needs. The education systems ignore the range of abilities and assumes that all students entering kindergarten will end up in university. This automatically makes failures of those who don’t go to university.
In the US, they tried to downplay this by creating pseudo-universities called three and four-year colleges. In the UK, they produced what they called the ‘new’ universities that are equally a waste of time and money. In most systems, you see a gradual ‘dropping out’ of students along the way. In studies we did in Canada we discovered that barely 50% of students survive first-year university and another 15% don’t make it to graduation. The charade continues because there are far more universities and colleges and the number of academics grown exponentially. This generates thousands of people doing little or nothing. They don’t know how to teach because they are hired on the basis of research degrees and they only publish enough for promotion and tenure. They are not required to have any teacher training at all. They produce volumes of useless research published in journals that only a small specialized group read and adds nothing to human understanding or scholarship. The situation generates many accurate observations.
“A professor is a person whose job it is to tell students how to solve the problems of life which they avoided by becoming a professor.”
“A professor is one who talks in someone else’s sleep.”
“Intellectuals are people who believe that ideas are of more importance than values; that is to say, their own ideas and other people’s values.”
“You can always tell a Harvard man – but you can’t tell him much.”
“Education: the inculcation of the incomprehensible into the indifferent by the incompetent.”
“Arrogance, pedantry, and dogmatism are the occupational diseases of those who spend their lives directing the intellects of the young.”
“Today’s public education system is a failed monopoly: bureaucratic, rigid and in unsteady control off dissatisfied captive markets.”
Aristotle identified a major issue central to any educational process. There is information you have innately as you develop the skills necessary as a human. Then there is information you learn from experience. Aristotle pointed out that you can have a mathematics genius of 6 years old but will never have a philosophical genius of that age. He recommended students go to school until approximately puberty (12 years) then they get out of school and work, travel, to learn about life to return to school when they are about 30. The UK and North American systems not only ignore this natural divide it exacerbates it by dividing it into three segments, Elementary, Middle, and High schools. This isolates students as they go through puberty. Research shows the brain develops very little during this time as all energy is directed to the chemical and physical changes of puberty. No wonder Middle schools are renowned for disciplinary problems. An education system that is a continuum would better reflect the continuum of life.
The Aristotelian system would not work today because the education system is designed around the industrial society and must produce human work units. In too many homes children must be cared for while the parents work. So, it is expedient to keep them in school and teach them subjects that have little meaning. What is the point of teaching history to young people for who a week is forever? More important, as President Trump noted, why force them to take subjects when their talent is automotive repair or some other trade skill.
Some jurisdictions recognize that students have different abilities. The UK system used to distinguish those who were talented with their hands from those who lacked those skills. The problem is a class distinction was involved so that the latter went to Grammar Schools, the former to Secondary Modern. Just the use of the word “Secondary” had enormous implications. Presumably because of claims of inequality or discrimination the UK created Comprehensive schools that moved away from the reality of people and society and ignored the diversity that is society.
In North America, they didn’t consider even this basic separation. All students are put in the same stream and only separated by a system designed to fail those not suitable for the academic’s definition of intellect. I say academics, not universities because the faculty controls the universities by dominating the Senate and ensuring that all executive positions, including Presidents and Deans, are academics. What you have is a prison system run by the prisoners, and the guards are promoted prisoners.
The story about the Mother Rabbit who sent her child to nature school explains the process of designed failure. After the first day, the Mother asked how the day went. The young rabbit replied, it was great we learned to run. After the second day, the answer was the day went great because we learned to jump. The answer on the third day was, it was not good, we learned tree climbing. The Mother encouraged the young rabbit saying you have to experience a variety in life, everything is not as you like. On the fourth day, the answer was more negative as it involved learning to fly. The young rabbit was ready to quit, but the Mother persuaded the child to give it one more try. On the fifth day, the young rabbit went to school and was told she did well in running and jumping so they would not do anymore. However, since she failed in tree climbing and flying, they were going to work on those until she got it right. The young rabbit quit school.
The academics use Intelligent Quotient tests as if they are an indicator of ability. They are not. Worse, they are no measure of wider abilities necessary for most jobs in life. The current system assumes that education will increase your IQ. It doesn’t.
Scores from intelligence tests are estimates of intelligence. Unlike, for example, distance and mass, a concrete measure of intelligence cannot be achieved given the abstract nature of the concept of” intelligence”. ” IQ scores have been shown to be associated with such factors as morbidity and mortality, parental social status, and, to a substantial degree, biological parental IQ. While the heritability of IQ has been investigated for nearly a century, there is still debate about the significance of heritability estimates and the mechanisms of inheritance.
The academic obsession with IQ led to another major mistake that permeates modern education, the failure to realize the difference between knowledge and intelligence. People assume that because people in the past didn’t know something they were not intelligent. The school system assumes because young people don’t know much they are not intelligent. The result is they designed a system that insults the student’s intelligence, and as a result, most of them are bored silly most of the time.
Trump’s ventures with education from turning it back to the States and then on down to the family are an enormous step in the right direction. His creation of vocational schools, apprenticeship programs, and the realization that most people don’t need the type of education created by a small elite whose only goal is to perpetuate their control are a huge first step. Prince Philip summarized it when he said, universities are the only truly incestuous system in our society. Everybody that is in them is a product of them.
If you don’t think schools are just babysitting agencies consider that most parents have no idea what their children are learning in school. Most of them never investigate or even want to know. However, consider what happens when the school sends the children home early the phone rings off the wall.
I am not in favor of government involvement or control of education. What we need is to follow the trend Trump has initiated. Teach all students the basics then create education in conjunction with the business world, both small and large, to prepare programs that have a real-world market value. Let the individual decide what is relevant to them, not what some academic escapee from the real-world decrees. People who want to study art, read classic literature or learn about Shakespeare can and will choose to do so in their own time. With a job to survive in the real world they can afford to do it.