Children begin receiving a formal education when they are three to five years old, and for the next twelve to sixteen years, or longer, they sit in classrooms, read books, and memorize various sorts of data. This process bores or frustrates most of the students most of the time. And what is the end result of all this toil? The number of important facts are far too great for the human brain to retain, and in any event, computers are far better at data retention than human beings.
Yet there are important things that could be gained from formal education — the ability to reason being chief among them. But most students don’t acquire reasoning skills. All they typically retain from spending most of their youth in a classroom is some facts they will soon forget, and perhaps, a rudimentary level of skill in math, reading, and writing. A few students also gain basic skills necessary for scientific or technical exploration.
Students also typically acquire some social “skills”: The lesson most often retained from formal education may be the value of conformity, both inside and outside the classroom. But this sort of learned conformity is often completely at odds with the kind of independent judgment that is necessary to create value and lead a fulfilling life.
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