How Education Failed You

How many of us got where we are in our profession because of our education?

Now the reverse:

How many of us got where we are in our profession in spite of our education?

If you are an early millennial like I am, you have a job you kind of like, and you most probably have succeeded at it in spite of what your parents and teachers have told you in early childhood.

It doesn’t come as a surprise anymore that what we traditionally understand through ‘education’ (kinder garden, primary, secondary, high -schools, uni) doesn’t form people anymore, but it breaks them, it turns them into obeying robots. There is almost no room for fulfilling potentials because this system is not built around that. As 1984ist as it might sound, the traditional education system is meant to make us docile bovines rather than roaring lions. Because, well, not everybody can be king, can they? So why not sacrifice everybody instead?!

The current educational system does serve someone — it’s the fittest, the richest.

They control the assets and they don’t need any challengers. I apologize for how conspiratorial that sounds but to their defense I can only say that this situation is nobody’s making. This is the result of sheer Darwinian evolution, hundreds of years in which people have tried different ways to organize themselves, out of which capitalism has emerged as a winner (for now). Capitalism currently shapes us and everything we do, implicitly our educational system as well.

Capitalism needs working bees. So today’s problematic education is a result and also a premise of capitalism.

Have you ever been consulted by a less-than-average physician? Have you ever been shocked by the illiteracy of a teacher who doesn’t know the difference between ‘your’ and ‘you’re’? Sadly, this list is long and it is proof that people have landed jobs that are of no interest to them and no talent for. They have been dragged into a conversation they don’t even speak the language of. And what’s even sadder is that they walk around thinking they are all important and valuable.

Instead of creating contributors, the educational system we have forms an army of dead beats that will ensure the quantitative but not the qualitative growth of the society. These mediocre professionals will spawn and will produce even lower quality students. Do you see where I am going with this?

How about we bring the individual’s needs into focus?

Of course, this is a much broader conversation that concerns sociologists, but humor me. From a human point of view, what would an ideal education look like? I think a good education is a knowledge base and/or a skill set that prepares someone to successfully face professional life. This doesn’t mean they know it all and there is no room for improvement. This means that whenever they face challenging situations, they know how to adapt; what actions to take and not just sit there, paralyzed by fear.

How could anyone today stay focused and think about what in the world to reply to their screaming boss when the only lesson they learned in life was obedience and compliance? Of course, this conversation refers to many more other things than just dealing with a hysterical superior.

Steve Jobs is the most frequent example of a person who quit school and did his thing. Then it’s also Zuckerberg. And, in my immediate vicinity, there’s Alin, my husband, whom I admire the most in this world. He did what no school could ever do – taught himself and answered the job market with a unique set of skills he specifically developed for it.

This is the reaching-your-full-potential talk.

I see education as an interactive connection between the individual and the job market, not as a unilateral response to it. It should be more like ‘Hm, I think I’d like to do this. Let me see what it is about, let me see if I am good at it, let me see if I have the stomach for it, let me see what it offers, etc’. In case it doesn’t work out, move on to the next thing until you find your niche.

You don’t reach your full potential unless you do something that comes naturally to you, that you like, that keeps you hooked. And that you don’t get to do until you have tried and tried. Only a few of us are lucky enough to get it right the very first time.

If you are in one of those situations when you re-evaluate your professional life and you’d want a piece of advice, here it is: Never stop exploring! And also, like Mr. Jobs said, ‘Stay hungry, stay foolish!’

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