The human mind is the source of all values, progress, and flourishing. But the mind does not function automatically. It must be educated, imaginative, innovative, and introspective.
Sadly, the schooling system in the United States—and in many other countries—has failed students for years. Singularity University co-founder Peter Diamandis rightly observes that the current system is “Baroque and broken.”
The current system, mostly run or dominated by governments, is a remnant of the nineteenth century Industrial Revolution’s mass production model. At 9:00am students might have math poured into their heads, at 10:00am they’re moved down the assembly line to have reading and grammar installed and so on.
While this system worked in centuries past to provide the basics needed for a productive citizenry in the industrializing world, it does not reflect how children actually learn, which is in very individualized ways.
Many schools today have tried to provide more diversified teaching for students at different levels of learning, Yet schools still generally use a one-sized-fits-all approach, with a “sage on a stage” lecturing students who are often either bored because the lessons are too simple or lost because they are too difficult.
The costs of education and money spent have increased in inflation-adjusted dollars by nearly 200 percent since 1970. Yet scores on SAT and other standardized tests have flatlined.* Colleges must devote resources for remedial education to make up for the failures of K-12 schools.* As imperfect as international comparisons can be, it is still alarming that American students often score low on math and even science compared to students in other countries.*
The victims that suffer most from schooling failures are students in poorer neighborhoods and inner cities. In Baltimore, for example, in 2018 there were thirteen high schools with zero students proficient in math.* And the problem is not principally a lack of resources. The District of Columbia historically has one of the highest levels of expenditures per pupil but those pupils score at the bottom compared to the 50 states.*
A clear indication of the schooling failure is a major institutional disconnect. On the one hand, there are the needs of businesses for workers with requisite skills—especially in exponential tech—and of individuals for fulfilling, remunerative careers.
On the other hand, there are the government-dominated schools, that fail to fulfill these needs. Before the 2020 pandemic, there were 1.6 million more job openings than unemployed Americans because of the failure of the latter.*
The danger to the economy, as bad as it is now, will become worse in the future. Exponential technologies in information, nanotech, biotech, robotics, and AI promise a future of unimaginable prosperity with longer, healthier, even transhuman lives.
There will be a growing demand for individuals whose education is tied to market needs and who, in addition, are innovative and entrepreneurial, to usher in this future. Yet the needs of the market will not be satisfied by a schooling system detached from the market because their customers—parents who want the best education for their children—have little or no choice about where their children are sent to school and what kind of education their children are given.
As bad as K-12 education is, there is an even-more serious problem with higher education.
Many America universities and colleges still provide world-class science and technological education and research. And there are pockets of fine scholarship as well.
But in higher education, students often receive government-backed loans—which drive up tuition costs—waste four years for degrees of little market value, and graduate with debt and resentment. Indeed, college tuition since 1980 has risen over 1,100 percent while inflation has only increased by about 230 percent.*
Worse, American higher education is now dominated by dogmas that question the foundations of education, the human mind, and the Enlightenment values of reason, individualism and open inquiry on which civilization is based. So-called “post-modernism” even reject the very notion of objective reality. We see professors claiming algebra and geometry perpetuate racism and that academic rigor enforces “white male heterosexual privilege.” Rather than being bastons of free thought, they’ve become major purveyors of the “cancel culture,” imposing heavy-handed censorship on even the mildest disagreement with leftist dogmas.
For several decades higher education has turned out graduates who now dominate media, entertainment, civic organizations, religion, charities, corporate boards, politics and, of course, education. This is the most fundamental cause of our current dystopian situation. And civilization cannot survive many more generations if the virus from higher education continues to spread.
The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic has meant most American students have connected with teachers and classmates from home over Zoom or other platforms rather than in person. Everyone is being home schooled! This has led to much-needed deep questioning about the current schooling system. Combined with the promise from exponential technology, the realization by many of the dystopian dilemma we currently face, and the desire of honest individuals across political lines for a better world, the opportunity to change the current schooling system is better than ever.
Just as we’ve had an information and communications revolution, and just as we see the emerging bio-tech, nano-tech, robotics and AI revolutions, so we have it in our power to launch an education revolution!
Children are naturally curious and creative, and they need training and education that allows them to realize their personal dreams and full potential. And the fast-moving future of exponential technology will require individuals with fast-moving, entrepreneurial minds.
This will mean opening up the current schooling system to innovative ways to based on the unique talents and aspirations of each individual student.
An education revolution will have a crucial cultural impact. It will replace today’s pessimism, nihilism, anger, despair, and malevolence with optimism, purpose, joy in achievement, hope—confidence, actually—that we can create a benevolent future or prosperity and long, healthy, fulfilling lives for all.
- November 12, 2019, Podcast: How Radical Social Entrepreneurs Can Revolutionizing Education and Much More! Guest Michael Strong. Interviewed by Edward Hudgins
- October 31, 2019, Podcast: “A Careerwise Apprenticeship Path To The Jobs Of The Future!” Guest: Noel Ginsburg. Interviewed by Edward Hudgins.
- August 15, 2019, Trump Administration Proposes More Flexible Apprenticeship Rules,” by Edward Hudgins.
- September 3, 2018, “Labor Day Needs an Education Revolution,” by Edward Hudgins.