The U.S. Education System is Broken: A Perspective of an American Ph.D.


The U.S. Education system is broken. It does not work. And I say this as an educator.

Let me explain.

Our educational system—both public and private—was designed to make everyone happy little campers in an industrial world. Memorize things, be subservient to the teacher and always approach a question or problem from left-brain analytical viewpoint.

This worked for awhile, but now we have moved into a right-brained world that requires different abilities.

Machines can be logical and analytical if they have the right sensors. Humans are better at pattern recognition, reading symbols and empathy. So, why don’t we as a society promote that kind of cognitive, social and spiritual development?

Great question. I’ve got some ideas.

I think the reason we don’t change the system is because it is eating itself. Education has become a business onto itself. It has ossified, become a bureaucracy. It can’t move because if it did, it would cost a lot of non-teaching jobs. Why does the number of administrators increase more rapidly than front line teachers?

In short, the educational system has become maladaptive. It no longer seeks its students’ improvement of quality of life (ask a student with $100K debt about this ) or new group formation—such as modern day guilds and tribes.

So, the bottom line is that the U.S. education system does not produce the talent that is needed for the 21st century AND it doesn’t present a system that continues to adapt to a changing, more uncertain world.

We are left with two questions: What’s needed? And what can you do?

What’s needed?

An education system that integrates learning from pre-school through adulthood (and into later ages if I may) and is focused on a systematic approach to:

  • Balance left- and right-brain thinking
  • Cross-cultural socialization
  • Continued mastery of technology
  • Self-paced content learning with mentors
  • Spiritual balance

What can you do?

Get involved.

If you are business owner, set up a liaison with local high schools and colleges. If you’re concerned about education and agree that the system is unsustainable, get on your local school board, participate in local parents’ advocacy groups, and for God’s sake lobby all elected officials to spend money, which supports:

  • Hybrid learning (same place/time and virtual)
  • Community centers with mentors (e.g., Open University in UK)
  • Greater variety of programs based on projected work force needs WITH
  • Everyone having a required community give back (say 20%)

So we get a more well rounded educational product (read: workers) who can learn together and virtually; the system is community based with local control; it produces both skilled technicians and learned academics.

And the key to keeping cost-control is to require community service of everyone in return for an affordable, future-oriented learning experience.

There. I have said it. Comments, ideas, and questions always welcome. Email me cegrantham (at) gmail (dot) com

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