De-educating education

I used to love learning. In recent years however, this passion diminished – I partly blame the system of education, and I partly blame myself for choosing the study programme of economics and management, the dull duo. What was supposed to be tinkering and diving into any area that sparked interest turned into a forced consumption of idiotic dull things, hoping that one of the prescribed subjects will be any good. Therefore, I find the education rather de-educating and resort to studying on my own terms, whilst building up my personal library.

In spite of all this, education remains one of my favourite topics and from time to time, I catch myself thinking about reinventing the whole thing altogether. More about that next time, today I’d like to share few short observations during the past years.

  • Many students study (just enough) to get good (enough) grades (to pass).
  • Many students go to school not to learn, but to get it done.
  • Discouraged students discourage professors, who then further discourage students.

The main reason to go to school is to learn *how not* to think like a professor.

Nassim Taleb

  • Syllabus is the unbendable Word.
  • Mercantilism, Physiocracy, Classical economy, Neoclassical economy, Keynesian economy, Monetarism; each theory succeeding the previous theory, yet somehow the education institutions teaching current version of macroeconomics fail to notice every of the previous theories were thought to be sufficiently exact and flawless.
  • I learned the most about management, communication and the art of persuasion in the basis of horsebreeding and horseriding course.
  • When in information systems and marketing courses professors discuss whether companies should be on Facebook, Gary Vaynerchuk executes on Snapchat.
  • One core thought is wrapped up in layers and layers of information that makes sense on the paper, but is hopelessly platonic and useless in reality. Such wrapping however turns the ‘core thought’ into a ‘subject’ and is then extensive enough to cover the whole semester.
  • Many students have the intuitive feeling of spotting bullshit within the university halls, but lack it outside the school, that is ‘in the world.’ (employment, mortgages, meds etc.)
    Note: unfortunately ‘bullshit’ serves in most the cases as an excuse for dismissing something one does not understand.
  • Students tend to learn specific questions that often appear in exams, rather than getting the feel for the subject and counterpunching any possible exam scenario they might face.
  • In trying to be useful, school system pushes mathematics down the throats of students in such a way that many come to hate it. This is a real shame, because only years later does one realize how important is basic knowledge of statistics in bullshit detection, of mathematics in building indestructible bases of scientific theories (or destroying them respectively), of logics when it comes to realization that not all logical is plausible, i.e. many things that make sense do not make sense at all.

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About Petr Klíma