Thursday, October 13, 2011

Is School a Scam?

Now most of you are probably thinking, "Oh no, of course not," or perhaps you already think that institutions of any kind are only in existence to mold you accord to the norms of society. (If the latter, you may or may not smoke too much pot.) At any rate, I have been feeling more and more lately like education is broken.

You see, I have been going to school since 2006, a nice long 5 years by this point, with nothing to show for it except my associates. But that's not really a problem with me, and it never will be. However, considering the ridiculous cost of higher education (even at some of the cheaper schools), I feel like I should at least get something out of it. And yet, despite all this time and effort, I feel like it has done very little for me. Especially as I learn more and more, it feels like school is completely superfluous to my education.

Now, I know that some people actually did end up taking calculus in high school. That's awesome. I didn't. And calculus was a very good class for me to take. But now I'm in calc 2 and constantly wondering why I spend so much time in class when I could simply sit there watching youtube videos and accomplish just as much in much less time. I'm not saying that my math teacher is bad, but yeah... she's not the greatest. If I wanted to sit there and watch someone go through problem after problem with very little explanation as to what's actually going on or why we are doing certain things, I could have easily just read a textbook.

What's worse is that youtube actually explains it BETTER than my teacher. I get a better and faster understanding of solving problems from a 10 minute youtube clip than from sitting in her class for two weeks.

Then there is intro to applied statistics. I actually took political statistics last semester, and yet had to take this other stats class for the sake of getting another degree in economics. They are pretty much the same class, but both of them seem completely superfluous to me. First of all, anyone who even uses a stem and leaf plot is an idiot. Histograms and frequency distributions are far far far more helpful than those stupid things. And second of all, since when is statistics hard? Once again, just another stupid course which teaches me things that I either already know or could have known very quickly and easily from other sources, without spending some ridiculous like $700/ credit hour.

I mean, really people. What the hell is the point, even? I feel like a degree is required in the real world if you don't like working at McDonald's or Target for the rest of your life, but what is the point of spending countless hours of hard work, time and effort just to get a piece of paper signed up some guy you probably didn't even know existed until your degree showed up in the mail? If I can already do integrals, why do I need a piece of paper that says I can? Wouldn't it make more sense for an employer to hire me based upon my level of understanding of things directly pertaining to the job in which I am being hired rather than some arbitrary degree which shows the recognition of some accredited institution which seems to have the aim of wasting time and consuming resources rather than producing workers which can actually have a significant benefit to society?

I just don't feel like I get enough out of my education anymore to really feel like the system is working, and it often makes me think that its just a self-perpetuating system, which exists, not for the benefit of society, but for the sake of self-perpetuation.

Countless dollars are poured into convincing people of the merits of a degree, and then society jumps upon the opportunity to take advantages of the supposed benefits of institutional learning in order to show hard-proof (some tens of thousands of dollars later), that they are capable of benefiting society so that some company will recognize them as worth their time.

Here is a great example of what I'm talking about. Let's say I want to be a programmer. I spent years of my highschool career playing around on the calculator, making games and simple programs to do all of my homework for me (which is completely and entirely true, by the way) so that, having already understood the concepts with ease, I could just create a program to career out that process that I already know I'm going to need to do and do the thinking for me... and then as my programming skills increased, I got bored of the slow processing of basic programming on the calculator and moved into more complex forms of programming like C++, C# and assembly, and eventually graduated to doing much more complex programs....

Anyway... so let's say I already have this knowledge of programming. Why does it seems like modern society is now set up in such a way that only people with degrees are acknowledged? Why does it seem like that actual content of someone's knowledge is completely superfluous, and at the same time, many great minds are wasting years of existence working for some shitty company that pays low wages, when they have the potential to do something greater?

Here is a more concrete example: At several times in my life, I have applied to be a supervisor, or even at times, a manager. Sure, I have never bothered to stay with a company long enough to reach this level. As it turns out, I happen to hate most retail jobs, and I sincerely don't want to do work in the food industry either. Though without my degree which says I'm better than everyone else, my options are limited and I'm stuck taking what I can get. Anyway, I've taken simulations and such and such, the sort of things that you must take to get such positions in some companies, and I've seen the kind of work that supervisors and managers have to do, and I am absolutely certain that I could do it.

In fact, I have had several supervisors and managers who were complete idiots. They were just down right retarded. I showed one Assistant manager how to use the register to do a return. The process was easy:

1. Push the return button on the touch screen
2. Scan the receipt, as prompted
3. Scan the item, as prompted
4. Hit the payment type, as prompted
5. Disperse money and party like a rockstar

That's it. That was all there was to it. And yet, this guy, for god knows what reason was a manager, and I found difficulty in even being considered for a promotion to a supervisor.

I suppose what I want to say, is what is really important to society? What is it about society that wants everything to be one simple streamline process. Parts go in this side; machines come out the other. There is no other way of doing things. Everything is exactly as it should be. Just get in line and shut your mouth until you've had your turn.

--Koi