Study At Home 1884


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Study At Home 1884
I was reading SCIENCE magazine from March 21, 1884 and found an interesting article called "Study At Home". We constantly hear from politicians, the media, and teachers' unions that education is something which requires huge amounts of money. Yet, even in 1884 this wasn't true. People who enrolled were both genders, black and white, young and old, rich and poor, people isolated on farms, laborers in big cities, housewives, and even deaf-mutes. Most of the students learned a great deal. They took courses in many subjects.
Today, we have public libraries. Thomas Edison, perhaps the greatest inventor of all-time (and the man who founded SCIENCE magazine, which is the world's most prestigious magazine for scientists in the world today), dropped out of the 4th grade and educated himself, in his spare time while supporting himself, at the Detroit Public Library.
Today, we have the Internet. Even homeless people can go to the library and educate themselves on the Internet. Every unemployed person can do this too. No one stops them from putting so much free time to good use. Every subject is available, usually at no charge. One can learn Egyptian hieroglyphics, calculus, refrigerator repair, electronics, how to operate a building crane, Japanese history, or biotechnology. No one has any excuse for not being educated. Not race. Not poverty. Not lack of opportunity.
Of course, most people don't care much about education. What they really want is a good-paying job. Most jobs shouldn't require all sorts of irrelevant degrees. Employers should train people for their jobs. We should bring back apprenticeships. The solution is all so simple and all so obvious. But there are powerful economic and political interests who don't really want to solve either the education crisis or the employment crisis.
We should stop wasting so much money on education and teachers' salaries. Universities should be reserved for the most intelligent people to learn and do research. Edison himself set up a laboratory in New Jersey where he trained and hired dozens of men. There, many of the greatest inventions of modern times were made.
The real purpose of our schools and universities today is to provide employment for liberal aparatchiks and to brainwash students with liberalism. Many students don't even learn to read and write or do simple arithmetic. Washington D.C. spends $21,000 a year for each student, and they don't learn hardly anything. They can't find jobs and often end up in prison or on welfare. This is a terrible system of education and a terrible system of vocational training.
I was fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to graduate at the top of my high school class at a highly-rated high school, graduate from an Ivy League college, get a law degree and pass the bar exam. But I can honestly say that I taught myself 99% of what I know. The years I spent in school and university hindered my education and slowed its pace. Everyone said I needed to get degrees to get a good job. After I got all these degrees, I couldn't find a decent job. I was never given a chance to show what I could do. My eccentric personality and advanced political views may not have helped, but I know that many other people have been cheated by our educational system and deprived of a career by our stupid and irrational economic system and the obscene "Human Resources" departments that do a terrible job of making hiring decisions.
A group of industrial psychologists once performed an experiment in which new hires were divided into two groups. One group of applicants was screened by professional Human Resources experts. The other group was hired at random out of all applicants. The random hires actually performed a little better. "Human Resources" people mainly benefit themselves by winning salaries for themselves that they don't earn.
Your points are very well made. A very large problem with this, however, is that most employers and schools today want to see "paper" degrees, not self-learning or demonstrations of self-learning. To bring back self-learning as a real way to get a job, we need a different system. I have believed that this could be done with a comprehensive examination system where anyone can self-study and then "challenge" exams to earn associated credentials. Nowadays, you aren't allowed to sit most vocational qualifications, at least here in the USA, unless you already have a university degree in that field (not a university degree, but a specific degree that supposedly prepares you for that career). For example, if I want to become a nurse, I have to have a nursing degree. If I want to become an interior designer, I need a degree with a major in Interior Design or Architecture. If I have a degree in English with a lot of self-study at the library, they will turn me away at the door as "unqualified" and not even allow me to attempt the exam.

How do we fix this system? Do we just remove all prerequisites and allow anyone to sit any qualification exam?

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