Yesterday, I talked about how education in most parts of the world is screwed. At the end of that, I said that we should do as Mark Twain says [1], and take charge of our education.

Of course, the education system is just a subset of a system in general, characterised by a large number of inter-dependencies.

Hence, what we know is that when something stupid gets into the system, it's going to take a long time to get out.

The bad part, is that it's some people's job to screw up the system. For example, University administrators have both a moral responsibility to bring higher education to the masses, as well as the professional responsibility to keep the gears greased and running smoothly. ie: School need to be profitable, and as a professional, you're there to get the job done, not screw around with morals.

So through a combination of bad luck, bad design, and sometimes, bad people, we're stuck with many bad systems. The good news is that rationality prevails, and the system will correct itself eventually. As part of the cycles of natural selection, the education system will have to be updated to the times, with some inefficiencies removed.

Heck, the transition to digital everything (including textbooks) is just beginning. And yeah, such systems move slowly, but it was only 6 years ago that schools had never heard of anything like an online portal, which is now basically ubiquitous.

Two key arguments to be drawn from this:

  1. Once something becomes profitable, we'll do it whether it's stupid or smart
  2. When profitability is aligned with actually getting things right, the system is improved, but only for the average

What this is saying is that those who are already ahead in the system will continue to be ahead, with the converse sadly true. Mark Twain was lamenting about it since his time, and we're still lamenting about it now.

I'm betting on education fixing itself, in the same way I'm betting on a technological Singularity - change will come shockingly fast, and you want to be in a position where you can change easily, while continuing to live and plan for the present. Key word: Robustness

Until then, I guess we'll just have to do our own thing and succeed by our means. Which is a very great thing indeed.


[1] "I never let my schooling interfere with my education." - Mark Twain (click to get back to text)


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