The Failure of Higher Education

I don’t want to know “what to think,” teach me “how to think.” In the age of the internet this has never been more true.
     I almost always hate complaining about a problem without providing a solution but in this case I think part of the solution is communicating to the world the failure in hopes that some will begin approaching it a different way.
     Learning “what to think” almost always inhibits our cognitive ability to discover for ourselves. Even in areas as seemingly objective as history or math where the “truth” seems evident, simply learning what the equations are or the facts of history jades our ability to ever discover it on our own. Give me a laptop, a sketchy Wifi connection and a skinny peppermint mocha, and I’ll tell you about the economic implications that the War of 1812 had on Great Britain. Likewise, under the same conditions, I could give you a relatively thorough introduction to a derivatives role in Calculus. Could I do that now without the preparation? Not a chance…but I don’t need to.
     Why is this important? If I can learn the “how,” meaning how to think, how to analyze information, and how to communicate, then the “what” is just a byproduct of me effectively doing my “how.” We don’t need a world of people who all think the same way but that is what our education system often caters to, especially the higher you go in academia. If you sit in on a government or economics undergrad class anywhere in the country you are probably going to hear the professor spew out what has worked in the past and what hasn’t through a degree of bias that is up to the discretion of the professor.
     I ended up studying philosophy (one of the more useless degrees possible) because it was the only field that didn’t tell me “what” to do. It was completely subjective and completely up to me to produce. There was a degree of summarizing what other people in history thought but I loved the concept that it was up to me to generate my own logical conclusions to concepts and ideas, even if some of them are completely irrelevant to the real world. It was truly one of the most valuable things for me because I learned how.
     As your making considerations and next steps for your life, keep in mind that the “how” is always more useful than the “what.”
Let me know your thoughts!
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