Monday, March 27, 2006

Straight A's

Last month I wrote in Academic Circles about the classes I was helping my friends with.

I helped each of them with one class. I did the entire database course for him and most of the Ph.D. ethics class for her.

This whole thing is just hilarious; I(we) got an A in both classes.

As I mentioned before, I do not have a college education. I barely got through high school. I hated school and I rarely studied. I didn't do much in the way of homework, the classes I did pass were because I would ace the tests.

The only class I can remember that I fully applied myself in was my Emergency Medical Technician class. That was an awesome class. The expectations that the instructors had for us were very high and I'm always one to meet a challenge like that head on. Even 20 years later, there is a lot I remember from that class. It's too bad that school can't always be that educational.

We have access to more information than anyone else at any time in history. You don't have to go to a library and pour through books and encyclopedias to learn. You can even get entire books on line for free from the Gutenberg Project.

While there is something to be said for being instructed in certain instances, academia as we know it is quickly becoming obsolete. It's easy to give yourself an education. Rather than having instructors, all that is really needed for a directed education is an education counselor and a program monitor.

How's this for an educational program:

Log on to a website
Take an aptitude survey
Enter education experience
Enter work experience
Answer some questions about your goal in life

The computer spits out some options for particular educational programs that you might be interested in. Using one of those options as a guideline, you could adapt the program as you desired. After you're done, you submit the program you want and it is forwarded to an education counselor for review who suggests some more fine tuning. You come to an agreement with the counselor, you pay your fees and you are assigned coursework and a program monitor to keep you accountable and encourage discipline with your studies. Your monitor can also put you in touch with subject matter experts who are willing to help you through some difficult classes. You can pay a little extra for the occasional tutor also. Standardized testing along the way would make you eligible for a degree.

The scenario above doesn't present a comprehensive picture of the program I envision but you get the idea. It would also be difficult to carry out if you wanted to study hard sciences since it would require access to labs and physical interaction with other students. Even if you account for those instances, education would be far cheaper simply because many of the other requirements could be done as I described without having to attend an institution (physical or on line).

The academics of course will do everything they can to prevent such a thing from happening because it threatens them directly. They are elitist snobs and they must be important. The world is changing and education is changing with it. Who knows what it will be like in 20 years.