It is the information age. If you have a computer and an Internet connection, you have all the information in the world at your fingertips. That should mean it is easier than ever to become well-educated. Sadly, this is not true. Institutionalized education has failed to deliver, socioeconomic barriers have not been overcome, and only one definition of “well-educated” prevails in the developed world.
Institutionalized education around the world is failing students with its promises of a better life. The two most important skills that students learn in school are memorizing facts and taking standardized tests. There are no jobs that demand these two skills. Employers want employees who can quickly understand new information and immediately apply it to solve real problems or create new opportunities. This system has created millions of unemployed college graduates around the world.
There continues to be disparity in education access between students from well-off families and students from impoverished families. Those who already have substantial assets are in a better position to take advantage of educational resources like private schools, school readiness programs, tutors, and college. For example, when children from a non-cash agricultural economy where nobody gets rich, but nobody starves are put into a competitive system of success and failure, a few lives may get better, but most will get worse.
We need to change our definition of well-educated. Developed nations assume cultural superiority by creating education aid projects, which overtly aim to help children escape to a better life. In a global society, wealth and poverty and knowledge and ignorance need to be redefined. We need to acknowledge the role of institutionalized education in the destruction of traditional sustainable agricultural and ecological knowledge, in the breakup of extended families and communities, and in the devaluation of ancient spiritual traditions.
In conclusion, we should develop an education system that is not structured on competition with winners and losers, and we should redefine what it means to be well-educated. When we have respect for all learning, when every community’s knowledge is accepted as valid, that is when we can claim that it is easy to be well-educated.
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