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Education system based on useful knowledge

The current education system forces students to waste time learning useless things. Also, the system is not flexible: students cannot complete easy courses quickly. Instead, students are forced to waste time doing easy homework. I find that students' time is precious and should be spent carefully.

Current proposals for change of education system on the internet focus on 'learning less' or 'becoming more creative' or 'being all-rounded'. I am not disagreeing that students should be all-rounded. Rather, the phrase 'all-rounded' is misused. Systems that claim to make students all-rounded accomplish the goal in such an ineffective way. Instead of learning entire humanities courses, science students should be allowed to simply glance through and understand basic history, for example, with no need to memorize entire textbooks. After all, 5 years later all that history isn't going to help them become 'all-rounded', what helps them is those few pages of understanding they have, not the thick books full of stuff to memorize.

While science students benefit from learning to write, there is no need for them to spend years learning history or english, rather they should have courses such as 'writing for science people' or 'a course for science people on how to analyse stuff like the history guys do, with examples from history so that you can and will actually apply the stuff you learn to become a better scientist.

Topics: education
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    Oct 26 2012: It is never simple but I think that you confuse knowledge with understanding. If we were to intorduce what you postulate, the system would end up producing nothing more than chauffeurs - narrow minded people, who specialize in one, usually technical, field.

    Chauffeurs are no doubt important and necessary but I do not think the school system should consciously focus on 'producing' exclusively this type of people.
    • Oct 27 2012: I think students should have the freedom of choice, on what subjects to take and what not to take, with optional or mandatory 'advice' by the school people (counselors etc.)
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        Oct 28 2012: of course! Ultimately whether or not the school produces chauffeurs depends on the teachers not curricula. Teachers should be like instruments sounding a clear sound. To this sound, each student should atune themselves, and play their own, clear yet unique melody.
  • Oct 26 2012: Education provided by schools is not the end of acquisition of knowledge but only the beginning. So the learning process may be imperfect, but it is not a bad start. Its effectiveness depends on the learners.
    No knowledge is useless; the current educational system has a basis and a focus. If it is not as it is, then it would be based on something else; and then someone would complain. The point is that we will not have a perfect education system; but those who are really keen on learning would know how far the system has gone and what to build on.
  • Oct 29 2012: I like the idea of students being given opportunities to learn what they want to learn, but in moderation. Students do not know what they do not know. What is useful knowledge to one may not be useful to another. Determining the exact best fit requires knowledge of the future. So what do we use? We use what has worked in the past as a baseline and then adapt from there.

    There are some general lessons to be learned as well. How to study, how to write, how to read, how to manage time, how to discipline yourself and work on things you are not particularly interested in so you can spend time doing the things you enjoy...these are all important lessons for success. I endorse a teacher's efforts to permit student with a keen interest in a subject to allow them to pursue it on their own, but I expect teachers to balance course of study material to absolutely include that which has proven to be necessary for success over time with what might be good for a particular student.

    There is also nothing preventing the student from pursuing subjects of interest outside the classroom or with the help of his family or other adult leaders in programs like scouts, sports, religious studies, or hobbies.

    I think balanced education systems in the primary the primary and secondary school levels are appropriate. I interpret balance as providing students different perspectives, different viewpoints, and different opinions, in hes that they build their own knowledge base to use as a basis for comparison and learning. Once this lesson is learned they have learned how to get information, process it, compare it to what the believe to be true, and make decisions about whether to believe it, reject it, or look a little deeper into the issue. This skill is necessary for adult life.
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    Oct 26 2012: At higher levels I think that this occurs ... i.e. Pre med .. pre law ... etc .. a focus on those areas that would benefit in your chosen field. However, those individuals have also attended all college prerequisetes to advance to this point.

    Perhaps you have made a strong argument for Liberal Arts Colleges.

    Maybe your conversation points to the logic of high schools having dual tracks of college prep and manual arts.

    However, as your question leads me to believe that you desire a single focused one trick poney. If that is true then I disagree. Sounds like Huxleys Alpha, Bata, Delta, Gamma classes of people. Who makes that decision.

    Perhaps I have misunderstood your conversation and need further clairification.

    All the best. Bob.
  • Oct 31 2012: I'm a little concerned with the phrase "useful knowledge". The world is changing rapidly, and one can't just tell what knowledge is going to be useful by the end of his/her studies. Besides, more and more professional fileds require cross-discipline approach, often not from closely related areas.
    The course "writing for science people" would not help in this case: in order to write well, one has to read and practice writing a lot. It impossible to achieve within one-semester writing course.
    If scientists want to communicate with the rest of the world, they better be able to explain (in coherent and popular way) what they are doing. Interesting and well-written academic article gets higher citation rate as well.

    Same goes for liberal arts. I think that math, physics, biology, chemistry, programming at their primary levels should be introduced to the students (say, as a part of bachelor degree). They are the sources of the very natural, basic logic. Studying them helps developing clear, structured and at the same time creative thinking. They are an essential part of everyday life in our techno-world in which all, even humanities-majors, live.
  • Oct 29 2012: Good diversity. I concur on the idea - Who determines what is useful? Doesn't that conflict with the idea University. Some learning is surely more useful than others in different colleges.
    • Oct 29 2012: I define useful knowledge as knowledge that would be applied in one's career.
      This includes knowledge that would help in the career, for example if skills acquired from history classes are useful in one's career as a physicist, I want history courses designed for physicists such as 'history for science people' instead of 'introduction to history'.

      Useful knowledge, in my opinion, is that you use again and again.
      Memorization of facts doesn't work. I love my chemistry class since many (if not all) equations are given on the test.
      So instead of memorizing stuff that I'll forget after the exam, I remember all the important stuff that I'll use again and again in my career. (my chemistry class is designed that way)

      I want more classes will be designed that way.
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        Oct 29 2012: The issue of lots of rote memorization is different from the one you pose about knowledge useful to your career.

        As you seem to be a student, let me tell you what I think I did wrong in the first few years of my higher education that I was then grateful to have the opportunity to set right.

        I started thinking like you do that the best thing I could do was concentrate my effort almost entirely in the area of my major. This is a common misjudgment, I think, of the young.

        Immersion in a variety of subjects, including the very different problems they address and cognitive tools for approaching those is the best approach to the development of a flexible mind.

        Great ideas and breakthroughs in any field often come precisely from the transfer of insight from one area to another.
  • Oct 28 2012: I don't know, I mean who's to decide what is useful and what is not?
    As a recent engineering grad, I've learned to appreciate all things that I've learned because I've learned to be a competent engineer, it is enough to be good at what they do.
    But to be a great one, one would have to be at least knowledgeable about all aspects of life. Including things that we do not usually associate ourselves with. For example, Da Vinch was an inventor and an artist, I think we could be missing out on a lot of stuff once we start deciding what is useful and what is not.
  • Oct 27 2012: http://readwrite.com/2008/12/01/education_20_never_memorize_again

    No need for dates (memorization in History). just basic concepts
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    Oct 26 2012: Who gets to determine what is, or is not, useful for a course of study? Does a person training to become an accountant need to learn about language arts? Does a prospective Linguist need to study the essentials of Accounting? Mr. Stepien (below) makes an important point.