6 Wise Thoughts on Education Which Explain Why Our School System Is Failing

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Our school system has changed little since the 19th century. Yet, the society we live in is worlds apart from the one children were being prepared for a hundred years ago. So, why has the school system not caught up? Here are some thoughts on education that might surprise you.

1. Our education system wasn’t really set up to teach

The school system was developed in order to provide an obedient workforce for factories during the industrial revolution. While children were taught to read and write, which were helpful skills to have in that society, the real agenda was to get children into the habit of turning up on time and doing as they were told.

Our education systems aren’t designed to foster learning, curiosity or creativity. Instead, they weed out potential troublemakers and create a servile workforce.

Noam Chomsky has some wise thoughts on education:

“The whole educational and professional training system is a very elaborate filter, which just weeds out people who are too independent, and who think for themselves, and who don’t know how to be submissive, and so on – because they’re dysfunctional to the institutions.”

2. Our education system inhibits creativity

Our education system was set up in a world where things didn’t change all that much. A child went out into the world with a basic grasp of maths and English and that was enough to prepare them for a job that would often last a lifetime.

However, in today’s fast-changing world, we need to prepare children for a different kind of work. They need to be able to adapt and change, to be creative and come up with new ideas and ways of working.

But our current education system does the very opposite of this. Children are taught from a rigid curriculum in an orderly fashion. They are not allowed to work with creativity and curiosity or follow their own interests. They are not encouraged to think outside the box or criticise the status quo.

In teaching them in this way, we are doing little to prepare them for the real world in the 21st century.

As Pablo Picasso put it:

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”

3. Our way of teaching puts children off learning

Pawel Kuczynski

Art by Pawel Kuczynski

Unfortunately, the rigidity of the education system often puts children off learning. Small children are naturally curious. But a few years of school and learning things by rote, practising music scales or learning the rules of grammar, and that enthusiasm to learn start to wane.

Instead of firing our children’s enthusiasm and curiosity, we make them think that subjects like maths, music, languages and even art are boring and dull.

Leonardo da Vinci had some wise thoughts on education, and one of those is:

“Just as eating contrary to the inclination is injurious to the health, so study without desire spoils the memory, and it retains nothing that it takes in.”

4. Our schooling system fosters anxiety and lack of confidence

It can almost seem like our education system is designed to create anxious and underperforming adults. Constant testing creates huge stress which is hardly conducive to learning. And even if children do well, often all they have really learned is how to pass that particular test.

When children discover things for themselves and master new skills because they want to, it builds confidence and self-esteem. But perhaps the leaders of our world don’t want confident, resilient children with their own ideas.

John Holt explained it like this:

“The anxiety children feel at constantly being tested, their fear of failure, punishment, and disgrace, severely reduces their ability both to perceive and to remember.”

5. Our education system is unnatural

Our current schooling system is very unnatural. Never before history have children been herded together with other children the same age and taught en masse.

In the past, children would have learned within their families or a work environment with lots of different people of different ages, including many with the wisdom of many years behind them. Perhaps this is why there are so many issues with teasing and bullying in school.

In addition, children would have learned by seeing, and experiencing, not by listening, remembering and sitting still. These conditions are not conducive to real learning for most people.

6. Our education system does not prepare children for life

Lastly, our schooling system fails to teach children what they really need to know to survive and thrive in this world. Most schools do not teach the basics of living such as cooking, applying for a mortgage, or how to solve relationship problems.

William Upski Wimsatt puts it perfectly when he says:

“There were no sex classes. No friendship classes. No classes on how to navigate a bureaucracy, build an organization, raise money, create a database, buy a house, love a child, spot a scam, talk someone out of suicide, or figure out what was important to me. Not knowing how to do these things is what messes people up in life, not whether they know algebra or can analyze literature.”

Closing thoughts

I hope these thoughts on education have opened your eyes to our current way of teaching children. Perhaps we can all learn to encourage the children in our lives to be more confident, curious and creative.


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By |2018-11-17T21:52:50+00:00May 20th, 2018|Categories: Education, Food for thought|Tags: , , , , , , , |8 Comments

About the Author:

Kirstie works as a writer, blogger and storyteller and lives in London with her family of people, dogs and cats. She is a lover of reading, writing, being in nature, fairy lights, candles, firesides and afternoon tea. Kirstie has trouble sitting still which is why she created www.notmeditating.com to share techniques and practices for tuning out the busy mind. She is also the author of Not Meditating: Finding Peace, Love and Happiness Without Sitting Still.


  1. Undin May 20, 2018 at 11:20 pm - Reply

    And how would you build bridges, cure diseases, or create new technology if you don’t first learn multiplication tables and the periodic table? How will we know when engineers and doctors are ready to make life and death decisions if we don’t test them along the way? Artists are nice to have, but they do not perform essential functions which are done by folks who have learned much and THEN turn it into inventions and progress.

    • Vladimir May 27, 2018 at 8:33 am - Reply

      Artists instead of engineers.. in fact.. No industry – we’re POSTindustial..

  2. Jim Pickens May 21, 2018 at 3:51 am - Reply

    Get the unions out of our schools so the schools can weed out the incompetent and the bad apples more easily and get in some good qualified teachers. Encourage free thought and creativity as well as expression when I was in school you got in trouble for wearing a shirt with profanity, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and sexual content nowadays a kid can wear a shirt with pot on it nothing is said but eat a pop tart in the shape of a gun and out you go. Stop treating kids like convicts and non humans this nonsense of them being school property until they graduate has got to stop once a kid is off school grounds the teachers authority stops. And finally either go back the voluntary schools or only make those whose kids are in the public school system pay for their education why should those of us who (a) don’t have kids or (b) no longer have school age kids be forced to pay for something they don’t use plus this gives parents more motivation to get involved with their childrens education.

  3. Gary Hynous May 21, 2018 at 8:46 pm - Reply

    Well, here we have yet another controversial, emotional topic. Love these discussions! Perhaps home schooling is the answer but then the children will pick up the biases, intellectual limitations and prejudices of the parents. Teachers can only take a student so far in teaching them to read, write and do simple math. After that the student is on his or her own. The ability of any person to learn is limited by their native intelligence as well as the quality of the teachers and their interest in the subject matter. If a student does not progress adequately in the traditional education system, then the teacher, who is already overburdened and underpaid, should be able to spot this and counsel the child one on one. Practically speaking this is not really possible so once again the parents should be made aware of this and step up.There are always trade schools as an alternative as well as online learning. Then again the military is always an option. As a person matures they will eventually find their way.

  4. Vladimir May 27, 2018 at 8:40 am - Reply

    “Our current schooling system is very unnatural. Never before history
    have children been herded together with other children the same age and taught en masse.”

    Uh-huh.. Jan Amos Komenski had started the class-lesson system some 400 years ago..
    And I’m not sure that in ancient Greece it looked substantially different..

  5. Julian O'Neill May 28, 2018 at 9:31 pm - Reply

    The so-called ‘education’ system is an abysmal failure! No one has mentioned John Taylor Gatto yet. He says how this system is enforced. IF children do not want to go to these places, for whatever reason, their parents can be fined, and even thrown in jail! LOOK at this world people. it is a bloody mess. Millions of people are exploited, never mind other species being made extinct, and even BEES are threatened. Is any of that educated in the schools? How to live intelligently with the natural world? I don’t think so! And yet is is THE most important education.
    Like it says at beginning of the above article, the modern enforced ‘education’ system was to train robots for the industrial revolution and along with it came the mechanistic philosophy that claims–and still does–that we are machines whose brains produce consciousness. Do any of the schools QUESTION this unproven philosophy? No! hence it is systematic indoctrination OF it, though now the philosophy has morphed into computationalism, meaning we are to think of ourselves as computers, and a lot of people behave like them, and you see so many now walking about etc totally transfixed by their little computers.
    I came to find this article because I am interested in the new scientific research being down regarding what psychedelics do to human brains. Ordinarily apparently our brains are quite rigid, but psychedelics liberate them. I am looking at how the education system play a big role in making sure peoples brains become VERY rigid. Sht you only have to look and listen to the politicians, many of whom have had a ‘privileged education’ and yet have as much feeling as a machine, and are certainly not intelligent. Sorry machines I don’t mean to insult you!

  6. Ed July 16, 2018 at 4:44 pm - Reply

    I believe that our educational system is broken, because how can new talents grow in different spheres of life, if they all do the same homework, and it’s all take almost all free time. Children’s mind is arranged so that only in conditions of comfort it normally perceives information. The fact that our educational system makes children spend all their free time preparing homework is just awful. Because of this, children can not develop in the areas in which they would like to. Therefore, we must make every effort to save children from boring and useless homework. We need to urgently make a strategy for individual homework assignments, which will be given to students depending on their interests! Thank you for this article!

  7. QandA July 23, 2018 at 5:16 pm - Reply

    I know that self-education is the best way! because our educational system is broken! Because of lazy students that waste their talents and don’t want to learn anything! I am trying to make a new generation of students who are self-motivated! Because nowadays kids don’t like to make an effort

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