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U.S. Education Overhaul

I propose a simple, time tested model to 1.) lower the cost of education and 2.) empower students with useful knowledge. Please give any insights you may have.

The following is the process of gaining a marketable education:

student desires - education - learning - marketable skills - employer desires

In the U.S. this process breaks down at each step. Specifically, the main incentive for students to get an education is to have a financially stable future, however most students don't study, learn, or practice what they want to do until they get into the work place. Therefore they're useless until trained by the employer.

So why do we do it? Today's U.S. education system is the product of our industrial age, but market demands have changed. Education is just slow to catch up.

THE SOLUTION: My proposed method is to take students out of high school and inject them directly into the field they want to be in. This will cut out the 4+ year waste of secondary education, save students from debt, and provide them with connections, experience, and skills they will actually be able to use.

Employers have two incentives to do this. 1.) a young student is more malleable and the employer can raise up this student asset however he wants. 2.) it makes economic sense for the employer; Average college tuition is ~$40,000 / year. Times four years, that gives a student roughly $160,000 that he was planning on spending on his undergrad. Plus four years of time. Instead of paying a school to entertain a student, a student could pay a fraction of that money and time to a mentor, while providing benefit to the mentor simultaneously.

Again, the student here gains connections, experience, and skills.

Thoughts?

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    Dec 1 2012: I agree with Lejean that the purpose of education goes far beyond preparing students for specific employment and includes exposing students to a range of disciplines that might interest them, conveying skills in critical thinking and interdisciplinary thinking, giving students an opportunity to engage with experts and scholars working in the disciplnes, and so forth. Giving not only future scientists but all students opportunities for science laboratory experiences, as an example, broadens everyone's ability to understand scientific processes and the potential soundness, or lack thereof, of conclusions that are drawn that affect everyones lives. I give science laboratory experience only as an example.
    The same is true of the style of thought and work in other fields.
    The breadth one can get through education also enhances a person's flexibility to change tracks and integrate understandings over the course of a life or a career.

    Education is an area in which many tend to make assumptions that are too narrow.in terms of what education does and can do. The vast majority of people under-estimate both. It is important not to mistake confidence and assertiveness for knowledge and understanding. Education also can give us a 'nose" for that.
    • Dec 1 2012: I agree. There is more to an education than what I propose here but this idea is young and the page space was short.

      Perhaps students could progress through a chain of professionals in different fields.
      When I was a kid, if I wanted to learn the piano I didn't study history or college algebra. I practiced piano. Practice.

      Instead of having kids learn things by studying them, I propose that students learn things by practicing them and this is the heart of my proposed idea.

      And I believe so strongly in exposing students to a range of disciplines, and encouraging critical thinking and interdisciplinary thinking. Our system today doesn't teach these as efficiently as it could either, but they must be worked in to a viable education model.
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        Dec 1 2012: I understand, with two reservations. One is that education in any context, very much including the classroom, should involve continuous application. We learn not just by listening but by a combination of listening/reading, thinking, and doing things in a hands-on way. This is true in the classroom and beyond it. People who do not use material in a context in which they get competent feedback often think they understand something better than they do.

        Second, I doubt that when you wanted to learn piano, all you did was practice piano. I bet you were also learning other things that same day and week, though not at the same moment you were practicing piano.

        Single-minded, narrow specialization is not necessarily the best course.

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