A lot of my time is spent learning. Part of it is because there is a lot I need to know but I do not know, but mostly it's because the knowledge we have is constantly expanding and changing.
This article is my thoughts on education.
What is Education?
The word "education" in human history is pretty new. The ancient greeks had a similar word which roughly translated literally means "the thing you do to children". Other cultures have words that compare to cultivating a tree or field, or growing.
Education is often portrayed as an active, external process. One actor, the teacher, imparts knowledge to the student. However, this is a very, very incorrect model on what actually happens.
In my mind, education is an individual activity. The pattern I see is:
- A desire to learn something.
- A pursuit of that knowledge.
- The initial success at gaining the knowledge.
- The incorporation of that knowledge into your self.
In this model, having someone who knows impart knowledge to you is simply one step of a 4-step process. The other 3 steps are critical in the entire process.
If you want to be "smart", if you want to get "educated", you are going to have to first build in yourself a desire to become educated. A lot of people don't see a reason to get educated, and so they never will.
Let this desire build in you. Let it shift your priorities, and dictate how you spend your time.
The second step is the pursuit of your desired knowledge. This is where you go to a school, or read a book, or search the internet. This may also involve experimentation to gain knowledge you can't otherwise gain. Regardless, it is important that you struggle to learn the thing you wanted to learn. That way, the knowledge will be valuable.
Once you have gained the knowledge, you are not done! However, it is important to take a few moments to bask in the victory. This step takes advantage of your animal nature that seeks to be rewarded. Whenever you do something good and beneficial, you should always take some time to reward yourself.
Finally, useless facts are only useless if you fail to use them. All knowledge can be adopted into your very character and being, and should be. Apply the knowledge you've gained both in what you do every day and the future questions you will pursue.
The Future of Education
The internet has changed how we get educated. I am of a mind that we no longer need schools and universities, at least in their current form. Every worthwhile lecture and lesson can be bottled and stored somewhere on the internet, and freely given to anyone who desires it.
Education today begins in the home, where a child is taught to read, write, and otherwise communicate effectively. Then the child is told to put their sites on higher education and set on a course where they can learn for themselves.
The initial education can be completed by about the age of 8. By that time, they should be fluent in reading and writing, and have memorized the addition and multiplication tables.
From 8 to the teenage years, children need to be directed in their educational pursuits. This is the time when they begin to learn algebra and higher math, when they start to understand how big the world really is, and how fantastic everything is.
As the child becomes a teenager, they are ready to transition into adult hood. They should begin to focus on a few subjects in particular that interest them, but not at the expense of others.
All of the above can and should occur in the home. We do not need expensive schools, teachers and staff to educate our children. We simply need motivated parents with access to the tools they need.
With the cost savings of education, we should be able to see more families where one of the parents can stay at home. This is the ideal scenario for young children.
Into adulthood, people should continue to educate themselves, probably spending at least 10% of their time learning something new. We no longer live in a society where repetitive tasks are performed by humans. We need all the brain power we have to be applied to inventing new processes and making current processes more efficient. We need engineers and scientists, as well as businessmen and salesmen who can bring economic interests together.
With the internet, there is no reason why everyone shouldn't have graduate level training in math, physics, chemistry and all the hard sciences. The only excuse for ignorance is either time or lack of properly directed effort.
We should begin, as a society, by supporting the home school movement. Along with this, we should build as many repositories of knowledge as we can that are accessible to everyone in as many languages as possible.
These areas I feel should be the most important priorities:
- Personal responsibility, such as personal finance and health.
- Political responsibility, such as understanding how our political system came to be and how to make it work properly through individuals overseeing their governments.
- Economic responsibility, or how to make money without damaging the economy.
- Logic and reason.
- Foreign languages, but particularly the dead languages to connect us with our intellectual past.