There is a new theory of education being formed today

In today's world, education is something of a hot topic, and experts have been scratching their heads and arguing among themselves for the better part of a decade on how to copy the results of some amazing education systems in countries like Finland and Japan.  Sadly, this new theory of education is going to be too late to increase the quality of education in millions of students today. Ignoring the student loan "crisis" for a moment, we can all agree on one thing: collegiate studies are become exponentially more expensive and the quality of education is not getting any better.  So while it may be too late for millions, we need to understand the problem and move past it soon so that we can help those that come after us.

Researchers are becoming more familiar with what really motivates us and colleges are failing to grasp this new paradigm shifting concept.  Motivation and how to motivate others is the focus of business studies, so while organizations like Six Sigma are definitely taking notice of changes in the motivational paradigm, educators are sadly falling behind.  The video I linked above states that individuals are not motivated by money, they simply need money to not be an issue.  Once earning potential is no longer an issue, individuals are actually motivated by Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose.

In my academic career:

  • I have been burdened with courses that I could CLEP, but was unable due to university policy requiring X amount of hours to be taken in residence.
  • I have purchased books that were required by the university and professor, only to never need them.
  • I have paid fees associated with distance learning while attending in residence, and I have paid fees associated with in residence living, despite telecommuting.
  • I have been forced to do "internships," (Capstone) projects for local businesses where I do more work than I do at my full time, professional, salaried job.  The difference?  The college gets "donations," where as I pay $4,000 to "learn."
  • Finally, when you inquire as to the quality of your education, you're brushed off as a student. We're not only students, we're also customers; but the education complex does not treat us as such.

In the scope of collegiate studies today, there is no purpose beyond that of obtaining a degree, there is no autonomy beyond deciding which of the selection of courses available you'll select, and there is no mastery to be gained except that which the educators tell you to master.

I have become infatuated with self-paced learning, despite the fact that there is no economic reason to pursue it.  It will not increase my earning potential, nor will interacting with G+ users increase my ability to woo a potential employer.  So, why do I spend so much more time doing things that have no economic motivation?  Why do Starcraft players master their craft to teach others, even at no fiscal game to them; and why do tens of thousands of players learn from them? Because we have a need to have some autonomy in our education, we need there to be a purpose in what we learn, and we want to feel as if we've mastered something more than how to pass a test.

I'm certainly not the only person with the misgivings about the quality of education that we're receiving.  Check out this short video below:

These students are unhappy with their education, and who can blame them?  Students today are among the most diverse, creative individuals in the history of our species; and yet we are all taught the exact same things at the exact same time with no rhyme or reason.  Why do we learn this?  Because, Johnny, we've always learned it.    Why do we do it this way?  Because that's how it works, Johnny!  Why?  Do your homework Johnny! Anecdotal side note for a moment: 

In sixth grade, I was routinely in trouble for being disruptive in class, and my teacher suggested that I be medicated for ADHD.  This was before the ADHD thing really took off, so luckily my parents weren't caught up in the medicate craze that plagues America currently, and they were taken aback.  After some investigation, they found out that I became "disruptive" (I would sleep, read a book, or talk) in class after finishing my class work before my peers.

In ninth grade (high school, mind you), I was actually suspended for reading a book in class after finishing an exam.  The logic being "rather than read a fictional novel, I should have checked my answers over again."  I made a 94% on that exam, and usually that'd be an excellent score, right? The absurdity of the situation was that it wasn't "good enough."  Even a fictional novel is educational, and educators deterring a student from reading because "they should have checked their answers again" is one of the most absurd moments I've ever faced in academia.

Much of my youth was spent reading novels, through them I could live vicariously and experience things I never thought to experience.  I could learn things I would have never been taught, and understood concepts I would have never grasped; but here I was being told by educators that I wasn't supposed to have a voice in my education.  I was not supposed to read fictional novels in class because, well, I hadn't perfected my test taking skills.   I wonder, how much of my creativity was damaged because of our standardized education practices?  How much of yours was?  How much of our children's will be?

I'm not going to endorse the above video so far as to say that Interpretive Dance should be held to the same educational standards as Mathematics, because frankly, without some structure we're going to be in a world of trouble.  However,  the liberal arts are a vital part of the educational process.  Thinking creatively and being able to use our intuition is only going to make us better at mathematics and science, and thinking logically and with structure will make us better artists.

The education system is always going to need structure, and we're always going to need the 'educated' to understand things like logical thinking, mathematical semantics, and basic scientific theory; but we need to understand that we cannot standardize things.  As a society, we need to understand that structure and standardization are not one in the same, and we need to figure out how to balance those two forces.  The sooner we do it, the better.

Reinventing Education is obviously going to be something that's a dangerous concept for the status quo, but it's not one that is new.  Motivated students have recently had resources offered to continue their education, but what about for it becoming the gold standard?