This is the flip side to the piece I recently wrote for TEDxAmsterdamED. TEDx communication guidelines stipulate no politics and a positive approach. So here’s the other half of what I had to say about the current state of education.
“Schools are full of things that our descendants will look back on and laugh out loud at” - Stephen Heppel
Education is in deep shit. Funding is being cut & the next generation sold into debt slavery. Institutions resist change or clamp onto technological fads that quickly obsolesce. Many teachers can’t or don’t keep up with their own subject matter and those who are pushing for reform are frustrated by committees of the conservative and/or ignorant, incapable of dealing with what the world around them has become.
65% of today’s teens will end up in careers that haven’t even been invented yet. Over half of today’s graduates are un- or underemployed. The educational system has been standardized down to thoughtless mediocrity so badly that a college degree is already considered a useless qualification in many fields central to the modern IT and creative economies. Weak institutions are going to die, and they should.
So then what can save us? In order to adapt to this new age let us teach the children 21st century skills! Oh wait, problem. Witness the flagship image of that particular program, the ’Learning skills bicycle’:
Dear educators, what in the everlasting fuck is this? I actually got dumber just looking at this atrocity. I never liked the use of the saying “Those who can, do. Those who can’t teach” as it disrespects real teachers and wasn’t originally intended to disparage the act of teaching, but the comedic addendum “those who can’t teach, teach teaching” now appears horrifically true. Get your shit together.
The great shifts that are happening in education? They mean that most mediocre and worse teachers are going to lose their jobs, and personally I won’t be sad to see any of the paycheck-collecting time wasters go. Use the amazing educational resources available to retrain for a career you don’t suck at. I just hope you voted for strong social programs so your government doesn’t just let you starve while you’re working on that.
Despite the above I’m still plenty optimistic about the future of education. Teachers gonna teach, the coming generations will turn out just fine. Change is the new normal, and they won’t be the ones having issues with it. Good luck out there, and remember never to let schooling get in the way of your education.