Here is something I hope we can someday solve: the relevance of education. I did enjoy geography, history and biology. Philosophy taught me thought and physics made me aware of the real world we live in. But I ask you, did all those subjects prepare us sufficiently for the real world we live in? I don’t think so.
I believe we lack real world skills, everything from managing money to doing manual labor.
I have written about this at length in past. Most times I have had rather negating feedback. The key argument is that you cannot decide what someone will become when they are seven, ten or even fourteen. If you do not teach them a broad set of topics, then you will potentially miss out on great minds and great achievements. For years I, admittedly, did not have counter arguments. I think that now I do, and to my dismay, the paradigm is rather simple.
The thought was triggered when watching a news report on the shortage of engineers and scientists. That, I thought, was cause enough for more science education. That led me to think about all the other professions where there were shortages which, in turn, led me to think about the total laborscape. What is the workforce of today doing? Is it manufacturing? Is it planting corn? Is it writing software code? And what is the percentage of each? I do not have the answers. I will later take the time to look for them. But I do not need them to make my point.
I believe that we should look at today’s, and tomorrow’s likely, workforce worldwide and use the pattern to determine which curriculum would best fit this global reality. I would guess that history, for instance, will be very low on the scale. I would also guess that advanced mathematics — even geometry — would not rank high. Instead, money management would be very high. So too would sociology and work ethics. Think about it. Are we ever taught about the realities of ‘the workplace’? Do we learn about internal politics and job security? We might in business school but learning internal politics applies to someone working at the supermarket as well.
So, no history course? Will that not create an uncultured generation and generations to come. Indeed, that is a good argument. But do we need five, six or seven years of history? Do we need to know the details of Charlemagne’s life or of every Civil War battle? Maybe overview is sufficient for many subjects? Maybe if we adopted a combination of overview and detail we could cover more. Another thought might be to have a parallel system of education, one that prepares us for life and another that gives us a vision of the world we live in. For now, it feels that until university, most of our curricula, worldwide, do more of the latter and less of the former.