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Education: Is it truly a level playing ground for all who have access to it?

I am just a simple student. I go through education just like many of my peers of my age. I don't exactly come from a very well-off family and after much debate, my parents still emphasize that education should be the sure-fire way to success (they were only educated to about 'O' Level standards).

Year after year, more and more students emerge all over the world. Competition rises to the extent that it is almost as competitive as securing a career. However, is this competition truly fair? Do students stand a chance to succeed while competing against the thousands of other potential graduates?

Putting aside the rich-poor divide, it appears to me that students all over the world seem to have lost something very crucial. The ability to think for others. They have become excessively goal-centric and there exists a significant number in my society who don't even know where their education can lead them to.

Students have become clueless and less opinionated than before. The drive to innovate for the greater good seems to be diminishing, the courage to face obstacles have dwindled and the desire to dream has all but persevered.

On an optimistic note, what if the importance of academic merit were to decrease and students are encouraged to design solutions for the betterment of society? I believe that students who are not performing academically could very well introduce fantastic ideas to help improve or solve global issues.

I know I may sound a little schizophrenic here with ideas jumping around but I'm just a curious student who has been pondering over such matters for a long time. I sincerely wish to know the opinion of others, especially on TED.

  • Apr 4 2012: I'm just upset that "designing ideas/solutions for the betterment of society" is not a part of the standard educational curriculum, considering that we now have so many issues beyond the realm of what humanity has ever seen and the students are perhaps the best-equipped to deal with these issues!
    • Apr 5 2012: We share the same sentiments! In fact, I am actually working on a project to allow people to better express their ideas in the hope that they will be able to make a change in the future.
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        Apr 5 2012: Tell me more, I am interested, if needed be in private. You can contact me through TED, I might be of help.
        • Apr 5 2012: Thank you for your interest! I'll contact you shortly.
  • Apr 6 2012: Do all students have an equal chance at obtaining the greatest education? Unfortunately not.

    One of the main reasons that this is the case is simply the cost of such an education. I have spent all of my 18 years of life in NYC, so I have been lucky enough to meet some of the brightest young minds. However, having great intelligence and ambition is no longer the deciding factor in getting into a top college. Every single year, colleges are raising the prices of tuition without necessarily raising the value of their education. Therefore, we have come to the point where even if you are accepted to Harvard University, you may not be able to afford that $200,000 bachelor's degree.
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    Apr 4 2012: As a fellow student I share your concern. However, I don't really think people have become less orientated, I think they have always been like this, especially when it comes to "mass-education". Schools don't offer a personalized curriculum for every student, just for some and for those spots there is high competition, which is understandable. Nevertheless, is the urge justifiable? Certainly there must be other, maybe even better, ways to achieve your academic goals? For example, there was this 19 year old girl who wanted to become a chemist/biochemist and because of that she started contacting companies, even though she didn't have the qualifications (on paper at least). Currently she's above her peers and her motivation is admirable.

    Personally I think we lack the capacity. TED is a good initiative, though it is nowhere near its potential. More networking is required to promote these initiatives, seeing only schools/business as platforms for innovation is an ideal awfully outdated in our intertwining world.
    • Apr 5 2012: I have come to understand that "mass-education" is also a means in which the government is able to monitor the next generation of people. Having them "factory-produced" appears to make these people more susceptible to external manipulation when their mindsets have been conditioned through such an education.

      I agree that there are many many other ways to achieve not only academic goals but success as a whole. I like your example very much. It really shows how passion for something can drive a person to do so much more.

      We do lack the capacity, sadly. TED should attempt to reach out to more people as you suggested through further networking. As of now, I think there should be at least 10000 active users on TED, which is definitely not enough for so many great ideas to be shared. As a start, we could at least try to promote other similar initiatives to our friends and hope they do the same as well.

      Communication, in any place, should serve as the basis for innovation. Schools and businesses won't suffice in the future.