It’s Time to Fix Education

Go ahead, watch the video, I’ll wait…

I saw this video for the first time about 3 years ago, and it REALLY struck a chord. From the moment I set foot in school at the ripe old age of 5 or 6 I’ve known that our current system of education is seriously broken. My wife, and virtually everyone else I know, agrees wholeheartedly.

In fact, my wife and I are so sure that traditional, formal education is broken that we’ve decided to NEVER allow our son to set foot in public school. Or private school. Or any school at all, at least not one that’s structured around such a hideously archaic system.

You see, we’re absolutely confident that we can do an infinitely better job of teaching our son than anyone else ever could. And we believe we can do it without taking from him the very essence of who he is.

The greatest things that we are born with are imagination, creativity, and a sense of wonder, hope and possibility. We enter this world absolutely certain that anything is possible, with a flexible, sponge-like mind. But bit by bit, year after year, every one of those traits that make us exceptional is stamped and beaten and ground out of us until what’s left is just…average. The system likes conformity, not outliers.

Why the hell do we allow this to happen? And why the hell to we allow others to do this to our children?

50 years, 100 years, 1,000 years down the road, nobody will remember the sheep, the cogs in the machine, the factory workers and laborers…the average. Why should they?

We remember Plato and Einstein, Galileo and Michelangelo, Columbus and Alexander the Great…we remember the great, the visionaries, the heretics, the geniuses…not the mediocre. We remember, and revere, the exceptional.

But each and every one of us, at birth, is exceptional. We’re the most intelligent, adaptable creatures on the planet. We have the ability to become absolutely anything that we set our minds to becoming. So why, why don’t we teach and train and encourage our children to not only keep the gifts that they come into the world with, but to actually reach for the stars? Why don’t we teach them that anything is possible??

I personally HATED school, more than words can ever effectively express. Do you know why?

I hated school because I hated being told that things could only be done a certain way, that there was one acceptable path/solution/action.

I have a crystal clear recollection of figuring out an alternate way to solve a math problem, and having my teacher tell me “that’s not the right way to solve the problem.” Who gives a flying crap if it isn’t the “right” way? I solved the bloody problem, didn’t I? It worked for other similar problems, so it was a valid path to the solution, yes? Then why wasn’t it acceptable?

Because it wasn’t the “right” way.

The only part of life that is remotely linear is our lifespan, birth to death. Everything else goes every which way. Up, down, left, right, slant-ways, in ways, out ways…why, even up and out! Willy Wonka was one smart cookie 🙂

I have always had a gift for taking complex things and finding simple solutions. I’m creative and imaginative by nature, and I believe the reason I had such a terrible time at school was because it kept trying to beat those things out of me. And so I just kept fighting, refusing to allow a flawed system to take from me the things that made me…me.

But not everyone can persevere like that…most people give in, go with the flow, and lose an integral part of who they are along the way. I don’t say this to make me look better, or special, but to point out that way, WAY too many kids are being changed by school, and not for the better.

Traditional, formal education is NOT the path to a better future. An alternative, modern, technological solution is needed, and I am SO grateful that my son is going to grow up in a world with options like Khan Academy, Udacity, Coursera, Udemy, YouTube, iTunes U, Project Gutenberg, CodeCademy, Treehouse, TED, Mixergy, CreativeLIVE…and the list goes on and on.

Here’s another great video that makes the point nicely:

We live in a world where there is more knowledge available for free, online, to virtually anyone, virtually anywhere, than is housed in all the schools and universities on the planet. Hell, we now create more data every 2 days than we did cumulatively from the dawn of our species up to 2003…and we have access to virtually all of it online.

I’m grateful that my son will grow up in a world where he will be able to learn what he wants to learn, whatever he is passionate about and has an aptitude for, from anywhere, with no strictures or limitations. I would have killed to have the opportunities that he is going to have, and I am committed to making sure that he gets every opportunity to reach his full potential, whatever he decides that is.

We aren’t cogs in a machine. We aren’t clones. We aren’t spit out of an assembly line.

We’re different. We have different backgrounds, experiences, talents, aptitudes, hopes, and dreams. There is no “one correct path”, and thank goodness that we live in a world where the “one size fits all” approach is finally being recognized for the farce that it is.

Fixing what’s wrong with our system of education is something I am incredibly passionate about, and I consider it an integral part of my purpose in life.

If you own a company that is disrupting education, or if you are starting one, or want to start one, or even just have ideas, please reach out to me. I’d love to find a way to contribute to such an epic goal!


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Sam McRoberts

Author of Screw the Zoo. CEO of VUDU Marketing.