Education, Part One

This is a hard one for me. I went to a great progressive private school. I had a miserable time. I underachieved breathtakingly. It took until I entered the working world for me to find achievement. The system failed me.

It would be easy to counter by saying that perhaps I failed the system. But when I started school, I was 4 years old. I have more than my share of barbs, hitches and anti-social behaviors. But I’m basically a good person, willing and eager to please. For whatever reason, I was never able to line up with the system correctly.

It would be easy to counter that perhaps I was just not destined for success in life. But I ended up in the top ranks of American business before I retired at 40. Not exactly an underachiever by nature or a slow learner.

So what is the flaw in formalized, traditional (or traditional/progressive) education? It was designed for another era. The history is pretty sordid really. Coming out of Germany before the turn of the last century, it was designed to produce obedient factory workers and soldiers for the new industrial age. The industrial leaders of the USA brought it here shortly thereafter specificily to change the way lower class Americans behaved.  It was intended to move them from the traditional American values of independence and self-reliance to people who were trained to work dependently in an organization.

People who are by nature conventional and conformist do ‘well’ in that system. Unconventional, non-conformists do less well. But of course, doing well in school is not an exclusive leading indicator of success in life. On the contrary, examining the list of successful individuals in our society, I would expect to find a preponderance of outsiders on the list. Being receptive to convention and conformity are hardly qualities sought in leaders or visionaries.

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