Rant on the importance of education

15 May 2017 in loosely-coupled |

You probably talk through this as well when you are together with your family / friends / foes: The state of the world and what to do about it.

More often than not, we must recognize that taking education a lot more serious than we do now would help us a lot in the long run.

Our lives are controlled by those achievements and advances that have been accumulated throughout the centuries of our progression as the human species. Education has become a vital part to be able to observe, assess and act within the complexities of our world. The internet has surfaced that complexity to the point that you can spend hours and days to deepen your understanding in some minuscule area of the shared common knowledge.

Yet, here in Germany we have curriculums that have hardly changed in the past decades!

From my point of view, in order for us to succeed beyond the known patterns and reflexes that we have developed we need to level up our education game:

  • Education must be free and must be given to everyone.
  • Educational budgets are too small in most places. There aren’t enough teachers, the payment doesn’t hold up to the responsibility those people have, school equipment is often antiquated or broken, some childs require special attention.
  • Education must be diverse and inclusive. Young people should not be segregated as it is done e.g. here in Germany (other countries are faring better in that respect). Mixing different age groups also helps young ones learn from old ones and old ones to check whether they have really understood a concept.
  • We know a lot about how our brain works, physically and psychologically. We must know about our biases, how to keep them in check, and to recognize when they can be used safely for quick decision making.
  • Education should be associative. Our knowledge are not separated silos. History and Physics, Biology and Psychology, Mathematics and Economy are all deeply interwoven, hence we should not take a siloed approach towards education.
  • We must teach about empathy. In my experience empathy must be taught, it does not automatically come all by itself. Empathy is a key to resolve those issues that emerge when we allow highly diverse (i.e. fragmented) societies.

There is a possibility that I am cynical about it but it seems that a lack of decent education would be in the interest of those groups that would like to stay in power by deceiving people and twisting facts with the help of rethorical constructs and the illusion that there are simple answers to resolve the complexities of our world. This is indeed a problem because, let’s face it, if we don’t have to learn and someone tells us that it’s OK to not progress, many of us will happily do so. It’s our evolutionary heritage.

From the point of technology we can make sure that the learning material is optimally geared towards the way our brains work and that those who want to learn can do so in an organized fashion. It seems strange that we put so much thought into ensuring that training sets for neural networks are unbiased while being careless about which “training sets” we feed to our brains.

From a cultural point of view we must lobby for not leaving anybody behind - we need all the help we can muster to solve today’s challenges. All of us will profit from a big base of people who know and can contribute with all of their knowledge and their empathy towards that goal.

Chronology

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