Friday, August 01, 2008

The American Scholar - The Disadvantages of an Elite Education - By William Deresiewicz

The American Scholar - The Disadvantages of an Elite Education - By William Deresiewicz
(Jane McGonigal from Avant Game twittered about this link. ) talks about short-comings of US education. The most fantastic part for me was the following quote
Being an intellectual begins with thinking your way outside of your assumptions and the system that enforces them. But students who get into elite schools are precisely the ones who have best learned to work within the system, so it’s almost impossible for them to see outside it, to see that it’s even there. Long before they got to college, they turned themselves into world-class hoop-jumpers and teacher-pleasers, getting A’s in every class no matter how boring they found the teacher or how pointless the subject, racking up eight or 10 extracurricular activities no matter what else they wanted to do with their time.
During the earlier years innovation and challenging the boundaries by simple interaction of different cultures. There were barriers to cultures interacting. Thus top schools, by getting a diverse group together, facilitated the best learning environments. The system was right for the time.
Today technology has broken those barriers. Today learning must come from independent thought. And this is very difficult to induce independant thought. Schools are now trying to build on the diversity base, that they are familiar with, and add newer cross-discipline projects.

Cross-disciplining is expected to be next level of idea generation. Economics interacting with Physics, Medicine with mathematics, economics and thermodynamics - a lot of these fields are cropping up. I believe, education is in good hands. The most we can accuse it is for being slow with change.