5 things that are fundamentally wrong with school

I n developing countries, people are still fighting for their right to education. In Western nations, we complain about the low quality of education (and we should).  Although we have access to education, the fewest of us are educated (I’m not yet there). And as strange as it might sound, I don’t believe schools are much different whether you are in the US, in France or Kina.

At this moment, there is not a single country that has an educational system adapted to how our brains learn. Instead, we have created a nicely organized system, that in theory seem so logical and reasonable. In reality, it is destructive: Schools tend to be the graveyards for the genius we all possess!

Here are the five major reasons why schools just don’t work:

#1 We believe that the role of schools is to make us want to learn

The strongest instinct we possess as human beings is the instinct to learn. If we didn’t learn to understand and adapt to our surroundings, we wouldn’t have survived as a species. We are given this ability to learn. And parents are particularly aware of this with children that never stop asking questions! We even dream to be able to learn better (dreams reinforce what we experience during the day).

What is completely incomprehensible is that we have given schools the monopoly to learning. But we don’t learn because someone tells us to, we learn because we want to. Schools are created on the very wrong foundations. And because we still haven’t created a system adapted to make us learn, we never created a system that was able to educate us!

I would go as far as to say that schools are so counter-productive that it drains our natural energy to learn. It imposes rules and limits to our imagination and creativity. For the majority of us, school has become a place of boredom, a place to make us think the same way, a place of tension, and the final stop of our imagination!

#2 If it’s not in the syllabus, you can’t learn it!

When you start from nothing and then start exploring your possibilities, you figure out that you can learn anything and that everything is possible.

But if whatever you have to learn needs to fit one square (the syllabus), then you will start defining your success as that square. That means you start getting trapped inside a wrong reality, a reality with borders!

This reality is a double-edged sword because it affects every child, even those that get best grades at school. You stop exploring what is outside the borders because the world becomes the syllabus. In that process, you subconsciously stop seeing opportunities, you lose your imagination, and you start telling yourself that so much is impossible.

In such a system, it is, of course, preferable to get good grades. In addition to losing your imagination, you don’t want to think you are less intelligent than others (effects of poor grades). And you don’t want to be convinced that you can’t learn stuff because you just don’t have an ear for languages or that you’re not good in math.

Unfortunately, syllabuses are there to make it easier for teachers to teach and not for students to learn. I don’t believe syllabuses are bad; it’s only that they are poorly applied. We don’t want to fit every child into the same keyhole. That is not human, that is training people to think like computers, to think like sheep.

Luckily there is so much stuff to learn and to be passionate about that school cannot remove.

#3 Schools could be replaced by YouTube!

Was Mark Twain right?

“College is a place where a professor’s lecture notes go straight into student’s lecture notes, without passing through the brains of either”.

If the role of teachers is mainly to transfer his knowledge to their students, I’m afraid technology has surpassed the role of the teacher and that the role of the teacher is obsolete . Children know how to use technology. And they intuitively learn that what could be taught to an entire classroom in hours can be learned in a matter of minutes through YouTube. That must be pretty frustrating…

Teacher’s added value is not in their knowledge, but their ability to guide student’s in the right direction. Developing the ability to think critically, providing directions and resources and time should be teacher’s main priority. Critical thinking, curiosity, and an open mind are the major ingredients to change the world!

There is a lot to learn from YouTube to understand how we could improve our current education. Millions of people post their videos on YouTube to tell people what they know. The motivation is mainly to help people improve in different areas and personal recognition. It is like we have a personal tutor for ourselves.

We don’t have the resources as a society to have a private tutor for everyone at school. Or do we? Imagine if a second grader could teach a first grader to understand different lessons. I myself was taught by my friends explaining me stuff. Empowering children to teach each other is a great idea for self-development, empathy, improving communication skills as well as making sure that everyone learn…

#4 The things I’m truly good at are things I didn’t learn at school

Not long ago, I realized that the things I’m good at were the things I never studied at school. And I realized that the things I really suck at were the things I should have learned at school! Many feel the same way, and I think it’s time we do something about that.

Benjamin Franklin, Beethoven, Mozart, George Washington, Robbin Williams, Albert Einstein all have pursued their passions by themselves. They were maybe guided on their path, but their drive came from themselves. It all starts with this little seed of curiosity, that makes you want to explore the world. This seed is almost never planted in school!

If your are lucky, you can learn a lot in school. But that is not because of the system that is because of some very few great teachers. The character played by Robbin Williams in Dead Poet’s Society is such a teacher.

In that movie, he was the perfect example of a great teacher trying to revamp the drive to learn that looked so miserably forgotten.

#5 We learn to become computers (not humans)

If we do not activate our natural curiosity and our critical thinking, I’m afraid there’s not many things that differentiate us from computers. Think of it, most of what we do is already unconscious: We breathe, sleep, we get hungry, we eat, we reach puberty and we even think certain ways because of our genetic design.

What makes us human is our imagination that allows us to create and explore things that didn’t exist before. And our critical thinking allows us to adapt by correcting stuff that could be improved or that doesn’t make sense!

Unfortunately, we haven’t reached that point yet. We still believe and ask questions later. Media know this. Once something is published in the media, we no longer question it. Instead, we believe it and if something later contradicts that information, we sometimes change opinion. That makes me question whether we’ve learned anything from history. Is there any reason history is not bound to happen again if only conditions are right? Are we really free? I mean, if your boss tells you to do something you don’t want to, you’ll probably do it just because he is your authority. We tell us ourselves that we do horrible things just because everyone else is doing it…

I believe this lack of critical thinking is imprinted at school by the total submergence to a higher authority called the teacher. We learn to become submissive, and we learn to take it with us to our adult lives.

I believe schools train us to become computers. Syllabuses tell what we should learn; If a question is too advanced, then you are told to wait a couple of years to learn it. Then we learn to listen and repeat what the teacher tells us. If not, it will affect our grades as well as your chances to “become something in life”.

It looks like the school is programming us to become computers…


I am criticizing the system because it is a system founded on the wrong principles. We might not have known what those principles were fifty years ago. But today we have that knowledge, and we should be able to change…

And most of us know that something isn’t working properly. We want to change the educational system, but the fewest are not willing to do anything different. Change doesn’t come easily … And the problem lies deep because of us all: Students, parents, teachers and persons in power.

How do you convince those you need to be convinced that they could have been brighter, greater and freer, when those persons define their success the current system that allowed them their success?

There are so many solutions to create the perfect educational system. I am convinced that creating the perfect school is easy if only we could apply an open mind. If we want the future generations to learn how to think we need to change the system.

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