Living your Maximum Life is about motivation, maximum performance and a balanced lifestyle, but more importantly, there is a recognition that every person is unique, and a pioneer of their own life path.

My aim is to help readers define their Life Footprint and start living a Purpose Driven life. This means taking hold of the steering wheel and Living Deliberately. One warning though - Reading these essays could be life changing!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

How Our Academic System is Flawed…

What have you recently invested in your intellectual life? Have you read some good books, attended courses or seminars? Whatever input you are getting now will directly influence the direction your life takes in the next 5 years. In fact, if you read my article in Katoptron – The Human Machine, you’ll know that you are in large part the sum total of learning experiences that shaped the values on which you base your life.

Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.
Anthony J. D'Angelo 

If you want to live deliberately and take control of where your life is headed, you must also consciously consider what mental input you seek and allow based on your values. Sifting out what does not actively contribute to your life purpose is the first step in aligning your intention with that purpose. You see, the most basic premise in achieving anything is that you should not be in conflict with yourself. Consciously and sub-consciously you should be single minded in what you want, what you work for and what you believe. That is one of the biggest secrets to achieving success and living a Maximum Life. So, do not read indiscriminately and do not neglect studying what is in agreement with your life purpose.

But, that is just an attempt to get you to understand where your intellectual life fits into the balance and why it is important not to neglect this aspect of your life, even though you have completed your formal studies. What I want to discuss is the problem we face in having an overload of information available, too little wisdom to sort through the rubbish and find the truth and how the educational system is flawed in its perception of intelligence, how it teaches and qualifies people on wrong premises, why this leads to a failed body of science and technology, how we all perpetuate this system that inhibits true progress and some possible solutions to the problem.

Rules, guidelines, and even laws are someone’s opinion about how things should be done. Nothing more. - Johnny B. Truant

These days we are bombarded with so much available information on the internet, that you can find specialized opinion on virtually any subject. The problem is that there is likely to be at least one, and sometimes many more, contradicting opinions stated equally as fact on the very same subject. We can often discriminate between the mainstream theories and facts and the controversial writers with their divergent theories based on our education but, as I’ll explain below, even the widely accepted and mainstream theories may be subject to serious error. This problem is compounded in a generation who mostly do not read, particularly if it concerns facts, theories or anything more academic or outside their very restricted field of interest. This generation is dependent for their accepted information on the opinions of their enormous circle of acquaintances in social networks, where they seem to spend almost every waking moment. It is hardly surprising that they often hold views that are radically different, extremely controversial, and accept as fact what has never been subjected to objective scientific evaluation.

What further aggravates this is an educational system that teaches badly outdated and often flawed science, often allows children to refer to dubious papers published without scientific trials on the internet in their research, and has a very narrow view of what comprises intelligence. Let me name some more concrete examples; you need not search much further than history (whatever your views, you’ll agree that objective history is non-existent), pure science (just research the basic building blocks and what is taught about this – the view of the atom as it is taught in schools has been shown to be incorrect more than a hundred years ago, but it is still taught the same way), or any other subject to find that the curricula are flawed to the extent that they are all but useless. This is compounded by the fact that children are allowed to use information in tasks which they have not even properly considered, but simply cut and pasted from the internet. If you have read any of these tasks, you will find that they are often incoherent, slapdash concoctions that draw no conclusions, and that the students have no idea about the vast bodies of information they have assembled in this way, but are still rewarded with good marks.

An educated person is one who has learned that information almost always turns out to be at best incomplete and very often false, misleading, fictitious, mendacious - just dead wrong.
Russell Baker 

As if that is not enough to convince you, I recently heard an educational official quote that their aim was to teach children to “read, write, calculate and reason” on national radio. If those are the criteria of education and intelligence, then we are in trouble. No wonder some people with different idiosyncratic abilities and skills are thought of as “stupid”. What of creativity (a broad subject in itself), leadership, critical analytical thinking, motor skills, communication skills, spatial orientation, etc.? There are countless areas of intelligence which are trainable, but have never been included in any curriculum. A friend of mine complained recently that he never had a true financial education (he is 46 years old, and was not talking about accounting, banking and the like), and I had to agree that it is a huge problem.

Another huge failure of the educational system is that it is based on the existing body of scientific works and judged by the relatively conservative body of intellectuals heading up universities. Do you think for a moment that you will receive a qualification if your thesis is in direct opposition to the accepted views held by the people who must consider it? Of course not! So, only the people who argue subjects from a perspective that will underscore the professor’s possibly flawed science will graduate – and this is even worse at the post-graduate level. Who is to say that an unqualified person’s theories are not equally well thought out as these cookie-cut scientists? We do, because we will only hire people with the right qualifications.

Do you think for a moment that you will receive a qualification if your thesis is in direct opposition to the accepted views?

Furthermore, when outside scientific studies are conducted, this error is carried forward into practical work. The “qualified” people looking at practical problems have been well indoctrinated into this scientific method. So, they formulate their postulates and theories in line with accepted views and test for these outcomes. I put it to you that we most often find evidence to support the views we want to hold, and so we perpetuate the errors in current thinking and do not allow them to be questioned. How many alternate interpretations of the data might there have been if we had looked beyond the preconceived hypotheses? Objective science and testing are almost non-existent. Another example; if you balance petty cash, you will check for a certain amount. If the first count agrees, you will accept it as correct. In fact, if the first count does not and you count a second time to confirm, then find the amount you were looking for, you will probably accept it as correct again without further checking. This is certainly not scientific, and yet we all do this. To get back to the people we hire based on their qualifications – aren’t we making the same mistake? If an unqualified person can do the job better than a qualified one, isn’t he the more logical choice (especially if he comes at half the price)?

I will propose some solutions in the form of questions we might ask ourselves. Shouldn’t we reconsider the ways we educate our children and what this entails? There is a huge movement to “un-school” children (read this article on the subject – Disobey). It makes a lot of sense, but entails lifestyle changes and a lot more work – the fact is though that these children are gaining skills that they would never have been taught in traditional schools. Shouldn’t we put pressure on educational institutions to welcome divergent opinion and thought processes that are contrary to mainstream thinking – provided of course that sufficient substance for it can be shown? How about broadening the curricula to include real-life knowledge and skills intelligence so that the product is better equipped graduates? Isn’t the easiest and most objective way of achieving all the above to require that job applicants are first of all judged on their ability to complete real life tasks in the form of role plays and in-basket exercises, rather than ask if they have been issued with a dubious piece of paper issued by some equally dubious authorites? 

The only true measure of any information, intelligence, machine, religion or even person is its utility. Does it work and produce results?

Are we still so afraid of diversity that we will inhibit progress in favour of a system that is failing to give us even the basic product of students who can read, write, speak and calculate coherently? A system that is also failing to answer our day to day questions on how to deal with the energy crisis, political stability, socio-economic issues and global warming (if this exists at all) amongst others. We do not just need people who think divergently or out of the box, but people who have been taught to think laterally (Edward de Bono – Lateral Thinking). The only true measure of any information, intelligence, machine, religion or even person is its utility. Does it work and produce results? I know that this will entail a much greater tolerance for diversity, but if we do not start thinking in this direction, we’ll never make the change.


  1. As well as the Science being outdated, education presents science as an infallible set of laws whereas Science is actually a mental tool to explore and investigate the universe.

  2. Astute observation Stuart. Thanks for the contribution.

  3. І always spent my half an hour to rеad this website's content everyday along with a cup of coffee.

    Visit my blog post Lloyd Irvin