I’m studying at the zoom university. My one academic day consists of waking up minutes earlier from the morning class and acting like I had to be here to receive all that information. I have tasks that can be solved with a simple calculator, internet and an open textbook in the matter of minutes, yet they had to be forbidden. They are so all over the place that there are specialized storefronts spreading course materials, old midterm papers and class notes for anyone that signs in. Something is clearly wrong.
Long before my ramblings about how in a thousand different ways that education systems sucks. Scholar Ivan Illıch and a couple of others wrote about the growing pains of the education system. Even growing economies developed electronic systems to aid learning and here the world is.
Why do we still do memorization? Memorization had its place in teaching the most basic requirements in education. Math, multiplication tables, rules of writing etc. You could take anyone to scratch and explain the theoretical roots of multiplication but that is more work than it already is, so back to memorization. But I see that rarely anything changed over the years in terms of memorization in education.
When you battle with an apparent lack of sleep and motivation, although you still go to the first versions of mass schools in a smokey British town circa the industrial revolution. Or aiming to crush soviet competition with the best minds possible on STEM fields around Cold War memorization would have been made total sense. Because the knowledge itself was scarce and important. It is not the case anymore, knowledge itself is abundant but clear thinkers are going scarce.
First, the knowledge was scarce, then talent became scarce now only thing that is scarce in the global economy is clear thinkers, creatives and problem solvers. Talent ceased to be scarce and some people refuse to admit that fact; they are mysteriously still teaching at universities and deciding on curriculums.
Ever see somebody stuck in parking in a tight space? You see ironically funny videos of people spending minutes trying to parallel park. The issue is not the space or the person’s inability to control the vehicle, they perform a lot harder things with that 4 wheeled metal box. It is that they fail to recognize parking a car as the fundamental act of following a procedure. Parallel parking is something that can literally be explained using math and a driving instructor can tell you to do 2 simple hand movements to get any type of car into a parking spot. Here we have people who can switch lanes, another procedure, stop and go at different lights failing to parallel park. Why is that and why my analogy had to stick?
It is about a failure to understand the fundamentals of driving. Any failure to understand simple fundamentals can be attributed to similar errors. Would you nuke a git repo and re-open another one just because you failed to execute a command prior? You wouldn’t do that. This is attributing to fundamentals and thinking clearly.
Nowadays knowledge is really far from being scarce but we mostly find it disorganized, polarized and monetized. Knowing pre-loaded set of facts rarely contributes something meaningful above the ceilings of undergrad classes. Are we just sticking to testing knowledge because no other ways has been tested or has been tested and practiced rather lousily? There are a trove of schools supposedly teaching real world knowledge. Coding schools or universities that teach directly what the industry uses as technologies a finance curriculum with lab hours before bloomberg terminals. Are they any better in terms? I would argue that they need to be classified as what they are, job training centers, a lot of what our current systems do as universities are turned into job training and job placements centers that we cannot clearly distinguish their value add experience. There are immense contribution to individuals and collective structures but one should not play by their luck to assume practical teaching institutions will invent a new way to teach people to be independent clear thinkers and have just the right skills and judgement wanted by the industry.
#WFH showed the world that knowledge and talent scarcity is obscure around the world. For first world citizens knowledge and profession is something that is literally portable. Second world citizens are getting there but hampered by border and work permit policies. There are no wisdom in hiring the world’s best 111.686th engineer in your office where you can borrow his judgement online. Better, you can borrow the world’s best shopify based e-mail marketing optimization expert’s judgement for his hourly rate on freelancer platforms. World is going to be filtered down and upscale specialized while colleges battle to deliver a standardized curricula for a set point of time.