I'm a somewhat intelligent dude. I went to a well-regarded high school and graduated from a more-than-respectable college. And yet when I look back on the 15 years I spent in the education system, it's shocking to realize how little I actually learned.
Put another way, most of my time in class involved dumping various bits of information into my short-term memory, with precious little data sticking around into adulthood.
Maybe you feel the same way? Let's break it down. One thing most of us got out of school was the ability to read, write, utilize basic arithmetic, and locate some of the cooler countries on a map of the world. (I'm looking at you, Brazil.) Mind you, this was pretty much all grasped by the time first grade wrapped up.
Here's an exercise: write a list of the specific things you learned in school from say, age six onward. And jotting down "I studied physics" or "I got an 'A' in economics" doesn't count, my friends. I'm talking about tangible information you actually remember. Heck, it doesn't even have to be useful.
Here's the crazy thing: whatever you come up with likely won't amount to much. I scoured my brain for a solid twenty minutes, and here's everything I can recall being taught:
The Allies kicked some Axis butt in WWII.
The cardiovascular and blood circulatory system is made up of the heart, lungs, arteries, and veins.
Shakespeare's tragedies were kinda goofy, and his comedies weren't all that funny.
NACL stands for 'sodium chloride.'
The three types of pillars in Greek architecture are Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian.
Trickle-down economics is the theory that when rich folks do well, everyone does well.
The Canadian government runs on a parliamentary system.
Mitosis and meiosis are forms of cell division.
Annnnnnnd, that's all I've got for you, ladies and gentlemen.
So what's the takeaway here? Does school become a waste of time once we exit our formative years? Should we all just step into the workforce upon hitting the tender age of seven? Probably not. But meager lists like this (I've had others try the experiment, with the same result) suggest maybe our education system could benefit from a little retooling.
It's important to be taught facts and figures. There's even room for the occasional bit of rote memorization. Yet I can't help think that here in the 21st century, there must be some compelling new learning and retention methods at our disposal. Ones that can be slowly introduced at the state and federal level. Honestly, how exciting -- and beneficial -- would this be for our upcoming generations of students? Short answer: very.
I'd come up with some ideas myself, but I can't seem to recall anything from that high school business class I took.