As I have been studying in my local Starbucks lately I have run into quite a few friends and acquaintance that I have not seen for quite some time. It’s always a great feeling when you are just sitting there enjoying some coffee and reading a good book and see a friend walk in door. That small town sort of feeling when you can just run into friends during the normal course of a day and stop and catchup is probably the reason that so many people like the feel of small towns. It makes you feel like part of society when you can go places and have people you know and who know you be there.
After having attended college for nearly 5 years at this point and being almost finished with a 4 year degree I would like to provide some insight into some of the problems within higher education today.
In most of my classes when you walk in the door it’s as if we are suppose to forget about the past 100 years of innovation and technology. For starters you aren’t allowed to use industry standard tools in order to learn concepts or to solve the problems that are assigned in class. On tests rather than allowing you to bring whatever tools you may need in order to solve the problem you must instead memorize all possible tools because if you don’t have them memorized they don’t exist. Where did the idea that memorization equals understanding? Isn’t it more important to be able to apply concepts to real world problems rather than having memorized answers for only a handful of possible situations?
The idea that you must know how to build a tool in order to use it is a terrible concept that breaks down nearly immediately in the real world. Americans drive millions of cars and I would wager that the vast majority barely understand the concepts of the modern internal combustion engine, let alone know how to build one from raw materials. Another example is the cellphone that everyone carries around everyday. The professor that is teaching that you have to know how to build a tool in order to use it can’t even begin to explain the concept of how a cell phone works let alone build one. We need to get past this idea of having to build all our tools. A mechanic would never be able to do his primary job of repairing cars if he was forced to build all of the tools that he uses on a daily basis. What is important to his job is the ability to use a wide variety of tools in different situations in order to solve problems. He is more concerned with the application of tools instead of the creation of them. The era when a man was able to build all the tools that he uses died with the rise of mass production of goods.