I have heard from multiple sources that college is the best days of one’s life. The endless parties, enjoying the company of friends, and making memories is what makes school special – or so they say. Although I do enjoy college, I believe it has failed me (personal opinion). Many classes I attend fail to correlate REAL-LIFE scenarios and problems, leaving me wondering why I can’t teach myself, and save tens of thousands of dollars in the process. The current structure of higher education is forcing today’s youth into a mold that was meant for the Industrial Revolution, not the Information Age. Businesses are constantly innovating in order to survive, yet education has done very little to change. Why has higher education failed me? Let me explain.
Creativity vs. Processes
I am a right-brained thinker, which means that I tend to process information randomly, holistically, and subjectively. The majority of school subjects (math, science, portions of English), are geared towards left-brained thinkers, teaching us to follow steps and a specific process. I am sure these processes work wonders for many people, yet I struggle under this format of learning. If I cannot be creative, I lose motivation. When I lose motivation, I have a difficult time accomplishing daily tasks. For more information, check out this video of Ken Robinson, a brilliant thinker who challenges the status quo of education.
Outdated Teaching Material
Spending a few hours at the local Border’s bookstore every week has taught me **more than 2 years of college. **For example: I recently took an accounting class, in which I was taught a basic approach to accounting. I learned about debits and credits – I am confident the material was not updated since the Sarbanes Oxley Act in 2002. Even though this was a basic accounting course, Quickbooks, a leader in accounting software was rarely mentioned. Why are we not learning about companies like Indinero, who are revolutionizing the way businesses handle accounting? Technology is constantly changing, yet why is education not catching up?
As much as I love an easy multiple choice exam, are there really 4 possible choices to problems and challenges we face in life? I hope not. The majority of the time, only two possible answers are even remote options! Why are we not required to write and formulate an argument on every exam? Society wonders why students have trouble writing, I am a firm believer that one gets better by “DOING” (That’s a huge reason why I blog in the first place – I am a horrible writer).
What if I am a atrocious test-taker? What happens then? Many of my professors do a decent job of diversifying the grading process, yet I believe the students who should be rewarded are the ones who pay attention in class, engage with the professor, and have the ability to formulate a persuasive argument. In the “real-world”, communications skills are essential.
Where are the Linchpins?
In his latest (and in my opinion, greatest) book, Linchpin, Seth Godin writes how current business structures are focused on mass production, where employees are a small, meaningless “cog” and can easily be replaced. Nowadays, with the advancement of technology (amongst a host of other factors), employees must strive to be the “linchpin.” That linchpin is the person that cannot be replaced, and is an extraordinary asset to a company. Higher education is mass producing students who play by the rules, are content with mediocrity, and are unconcerned about their personal brand.
Incorporation of Technology?
Are we really still using textbooks? The internet contains a plethora of valuable information, yet why do classes still revolve around an overpriced textbook? MIT Opencourseware offers free class materials, TED.com contains hundreds of valuable educational videos, and this is only the beginning. A few days ago, as I listened to students ask, “Who owns the internet, is it Google?”, I realized that students my age are very uneducated when it comes to technology. I believe that every student should know how to create their own website. Content management systems like WordPress and Joomla enable people to create websites with very little experience required. Even a website that only contains a resume is better than nothing! I also believe that students should know how to create a decent looking videos, Tufts University has recently incorporated video applications for students. I believe that these are needed skills.
I am not blaming my professors for my problems, I am merely pointing out the problems that I see with the current education structure. Thankfully, I have some of the best professors this semester than I have ever had before. Lack of innovation is causing higher education to crumble, it will be interesting to see what happens over the next few years.