Tag Archives: postmodern

The Future of Education

There’s something inherently wrong about our current system of education, and it’s not just me. Many top field educators are feeling it, and so are many of the students who go through it.

Image

There are already many well-established problems with education which are simply not addressed because the solutions are too radical to make changes without half the world having a stroke about it. These problems are typically linked with the fact that modern education is based on an older system which was used to produce uniform, thoughtless robots instead of creative individuals. In the industrial age, this was what was required. A person trained in one country had to be able to interpret the administrative work of a person in a totally different country. The easiest solution to this challenge was to create a standardised global education system that was, for all intents and purposes, the same.

But the industrial age is over. Super-user-friendly software makes information sharing easy. We all know that. Alas, the old system remains. What the world desperately needs now, more than ever, is a generation of intelligent, innovative thinkers who can produce the new ideas and technology we need to sustain our way of life, because it’s not going to be this good forever. What was previously considered the field of logical thinkers is now recognised correctly as the playground of those who can dream new inventions seemingly out of nothing, and go about transforming those ideas into something tangible and helpful only after that initial process. Industry is no longer all about mass production, making processes cost-effective, or streamlining the work process. It is now primarily about thinking of something better than what already exists. Once you’ve done that, it doesn’t matter how wasteful your company is, you’re going to roll in money.

The most productive technology companies on the frontier of revolutionising human life already know this. Companies like Google aren’t interested in regimented work hours, matching uniforms and strict discipline. They have been bold enough to discard everything associated with a traditional workplace. Google replaces its chairs with bean bags and its stairs with slides. Its offices look like a playground for children, with vibrant colours everywhere. I daresay it’s an attempt to undo the creative damage done during school.

But this isn’t where it ends. These are the traditional problems with education, but what about the more abstract skills schools teach? I was glad to hear that some schools are replacing certain writing training courses for young children with typing classes. That’s a promising step in post-modernising an education system designed for a world that existed 200 years ago.

New propositions include teaching children to use research and computers to find information, rather than asking them to learn it. I believe a test should never ask a child to repeat information. It’s not helpful, not in an age where information is so cheap and easy to find. What could they possibly do with that information in their heads instead of in their phones? I dream of the day that children sit down in a history test and are asked to use the internet and their skills of information finding to critically analyse a historical event.

I hope this will be a reality one day. But what’s even better than that? What do schools condition out of children? The answer: the ability to co-operate. Children are taught from day one never to speak during tests. Asking for help or giving it is considered cheating. I say that’s wrong. I think a child’s ability to complete the questions on a test should be based on his resourcefulness at finding that information within a certain time constraint. That includes working in makeshift teams, and schools make half-arsed attempts at group work, but it’s token. The vast majority of a school experience is solitary, and that is deeply flawed. A person will work with other people more often than work alone, and I think people’s innate ability to co-operate would be vastly improved if schools pulled themselves together and understood that individual ability can only be improved when multiple individuals with their own idiosyncrasies are thrust into a socially demanding environment. It is imperative that educational institutions attempt to develop and streamline this skill, which is otherwise forced to develop in the workplace at the cost of a company.

This is simply an introductory post to enlighten you, the reader, of the broader underlying problems in our education system. Many more will follow, detailing the more specific areas which need refinement or radical change and showing you some of the myriad solutions that have been proposed. Stick around for more on the subject.

Leave a comment

Filed under Educational Reform

Modern Marxist Mistakes

This is essentially a post about a very typical characteristic of people today who claim to be Marxists, yet still cling to consumerism because it’s simply too convenient to abandon in the name of living up to one’s ideology. So they aren’t Marxists really, just capitalists who complain about capitalism. Also, bear in mind that I’m talking about postmodern, not modern Marxists. The title just worked out nicely.

The grand German Mac daddy of all things communist, Karl Marx. Ironic, considering Germans have always avoided Marxism like the plague.

The grand German Mac daddy of all things communist, Karl Marx. Ironic, considering Germans have always avoided Marxism like the plague.

Here’s my experience of them, which I believe to be quite accurate.
The typical postmodern Marxist is an academic. We all know that students in university tend to be bent far more towards the left than other members of society, probably due to their lifestyle, which is financially humble and also very comfortable and sheltered. Furthermore, a student typically has no fiscal responsibility to anyone except for himself. I believe students are subconsciously conditioned after a couple of years in this environment such that they do not appreciate how different life is in the real world. Thus, socialism, perhaps extreme socialism, might seem more familiar and practical than the life of a suburban middle-class SUV driver. No doubt, they’ll receive a rude awakening when they leave college, start a family, and realise what real financial responsibility is, not to mention that they can no longer depend on their parents if they need new cars. Hence the socialist mentality is gradually replaced by a heavy and more sincere consumerist lifestyle. Ideology matters little when you’re gunning for that new house in that nice neighbourhood. Go figure (six-figure?).

Some of these students become politically ‘Marxist’ before the ideological pathways in their brains are obliterated by their affinity with new, shiny, expensive things. These are, in my opinion, the stereotypical postmodern Marxists. If you are reading this, are a Marxist and do not feel you are accurately represented by the aforementioned description, then I do apologise. One can only experience and understand so much in 18-19 years.

So what are the ideological thoughts of these people? I don’t want a lengthy post, so I’ll stick to the primary cause for their allegiance with socialism, an approach which is fatally flawed. Many of the guys I’ve talked to tend to think capitalism is bad because of its requirement of ‘constant growth’, which I also happen to believe is true. They say that the world’s resources are being depleted by the capitalist consumer, and that this will ultimately plunge the world into chaos once something essential like oil runs out. This is indeed founded on truth. A typical first world consumer, as I’ve pointed out in previous posts, might consume several times the electricity, water and food of a typical impoverished person in a third world country.

Here’s where the disagreement (read: fatal flaw) emerges. The postmodern Marxist lives under the delusion that redistributing wealth will somehow cause the world to stop consuming resources.

The problem, however obvious, can be highlighted with the following parable I just made up:

John is a consumer. However, he grows disillusioned with his lifestyle because he consumes far more than he needs to survive, which he feels is wrong. So he participates in a Marxist revolution and the whole world goes communist. Now, John consumes a tenth of what he did before, and what he used to consume is now being shared between five other people whose standard of living has risen in proportion to how much his standard of living has gone down. John is now a fully-fledged Marxist. But he realises too late that, despite having redistributed his resources, the world as a whole is still consuming the same amount of resources and will ultimately run out of something, just as it was going to before, except now the world has no incentive to find a solution, because Marxism is centered on the principle of staying the same, rather than growing. Only now does John realise the absolute necessity of constant, dirty, unfair and unbalanced economic and consumptive growth which is typical of a capitalist system.

The moral of this story is that capitalism does not consume resources: people do. They are not going anywhere, which is why the typical postmodern Marxist is incredibly flawed by blaming capitalism for the fact that resources are being consumed at a phenomenal and indeed unsustainable rate ^_^

This has been (Post)Modern Marxist Mistakes with Savva Pouroullis.

Leave a comment

Filed under Economics, Politics