GUEST WORDS - "My education was interrupted only by my schooling." ~ Winston Churchill.
Those who do not have the capacity to better themselves without the help of others require schooling. The goal of our educational system is to bring everyone to a level where they obtain some semblance of intelligence, so they can do what our culture needs them to do. So they can be of "betterment to our society."
Our country needs janitors, trash-pickup and office workers and people with a GED and pipe-dreams. There will never be a shortage of people to fill those jobs... Not because of lack of intelligence but because of a lack of self-will. Fate does not determine where you go in life, a resolute adherence to your own life goals, does. And unfortunately that's not what our school system promotes.
They throw you into a mix of thousands of students and classrooms and force you to memorize content without actually teaching you how to come to these conclusions on your own. Thus keeping your 'education' to a minimum; you learn what you need to get by, and you leave. And they've done their job. Occasionally, someone with the goal of improving education steps into a classroom and puts forth a better learning environment, teaching students how to learn rather than what to memorize. But ten or twenty years later, that teacher retires and the cycle begins anew.
If our schools taught us how to better ourselves independently, our society would hopefully be self-sufficiently educated. I know that the vast majority of what I have learned has come about from my own research, my own curiosity- outside of an institution. Yes, it is possible that some students don't have the attitude or the interest to use their head and think... That brings me back to my original point. Much like hypnosis, you have to believe in your education for it to work. You have to make an effort to gain anything in life. If you apply yourself and work towards your interests, you will succeed. Enough determination can take you anywhere.
That being said, there will be those who will fail, those who don't care, those who don't mind not thinking and people content with what they have, neglecting to make an effort. And personally, I believe they deserve to stay where they are. That's what our education system is for, teaching them to be mediocre.
But secondary and primary education is not entirely the problem.
"Higher education" in the United States is laughable. This country is filled with for-profit post-secondary schools, making massive amounts of money whilst under the honorable banner of "providing future leaders with the tools they need to succeed." Education is their goal, yes, but it's on the list right next to 'make money.'
The vast majority of schools in this country are legalized diploma mills, charging absurdly high fees for admission because they know what this society thinks of universities. They know that we were taught from a young age that colleges are a necessity; that without a college degree, we'll never be able to be hired by an employer. They know how venerated their degrees are, and how much people will pay just to get their hands on that piece of paper.
Even more disgusting is how this obsession with money blocks those without large sums of cash from being able to compete. Those with large amounts of money and connections can easily get themselves into a reputable school, just because the current overtone in our capitalist society is that of "... the more you pay for your college, the better it is."
If an employer knows you shelled out the sum of money to buy a private jet because the college you wanted to go to is 'highly respected', subliminally, he's probably going to think you are a better pick.
Someone without a load of money could apply to the same school, but they'd have to take out loans that are ironically more crippling than not having a college degree at all. With all of the money that is spent on colleges, we could have funded better education practices and never had this issue in the first place. But it doesn't seem that colleges will stop being greedy anytime soon.
Don't believe me? Check my spam mail folder. I get 10+ emails a day from 'reputable educational institutions' asking me to enroll and apply, foreshadowing that if I fail to do so, I'll be missing an opportunity. Watch TV and count how many commercials you see for colleges, with smiling happy students achieving their goals, talking about how wonderful their small classrooms are. Any college that has the money to pay for a multi-million dollar advertisement campaign does not require a $30,000 tuition fee from me.
But sadly, here in the US, you have to go to college to be respected. And once you get there, you'll learn that the professors who teach you have no concern whatsoever whether or not what they are telling you is sinking in, if you understand the information, or if you have the capacity to learn more about the topic on your own from what they "taught" you.
Your learning should not stop once you get out of college. But all the professors wish to do is get their next paycheck, and in order to do that, they have to work in the lab, coming up with new innovative theories so that the college that employs them gets its next government grant. Therefore making the college look more reputable so it can receive more fees from its next batch of brainwashed undergraduates.
I do not intend on going to college because I want to. I am going to college because I must. I very much hope for the sake of our country's future that we are the last generation be forced through this defective, seriously flawed education system.
(Andrew Podgorski … student #330610-Maine Township South High School … is a 17 year-old senior in a Chicago High School. He has begun the “competitive” applications process to colleges for admission.)