Given that many of us go through 12 years or 16 years—or even longer than that—of formal education, it’s no surprise that most of us have strong feelings about the education system.
I’m no exception. It’s these strong feelings that compelled me to write a book entitled The Happy Student: 5 Steps to Academic Fulfillment and Success, which aims to help students find new meaning and motivation in the pursuit of academic success.
The public education system as a factory
The public education system today, as it exists all over the world, is a relic of the Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th century.
It was during the Industrial Revolution that many factories were built. Large numbers of factories meant that large numbers of workers were needed.
It was a specific type of worker that was required—one who was obedient, compliant, and who didn’t do too much thinking for him or herself.
In order to efficiently produce workers like this, students were treated like a commodity. Public education was the “factory”; the obedient worker was the “product.”
The “factory” concept of public education is still around today.
Students are brought to the start of the assembly line at age 6 (or even younger), and the “product” is expected to be completed by their late teens or early 20s.
Students are “processed” in batches. Quality control is done in the form of exams and standardized tests.
In addition, the factory largely determines what kinds of products can be manufactured: engineers, doctors, lawyers, economists, teachers, technicians, etc.
No product that’s too weird or out-of-the-ordinary, please!
Education needs a revolution too
The Industrial Revolution was a world-changing phenomenon that made it necessary for public education to be set up as a one-size-fits-all factory.
But times have changed. The Digital Revolution means that gradual, evolutionary changes in education simply won’t cut it.
We need a revolution in education, too.
We need people who are persistent, proactive and passionate—but we’re not going to develop people who possess those traits through our current system.
By and large, people who are persistent, proactive and passionate have become that way despite the “factory” model of education, not because of it. They’ve overcome the odds!
The whole point of this article
I’m no expert on education policy, but I know that things have to change.
The “factory” model was founded on the following principles:
- It’s easy to run
- It’s easy to administer
- It’s easy to quantify results
My whole point is this: Easier isn’t always better. Not when it comes to the education system, and not when it comes to our personal lives.
Let’s choose the better way, regardless of whether or not it’s easier.