This post will be specifically speaking to the parents of primary and secondary-school aged children, but it will also speak to people of different life stages who are looking to up-skill themselves. I will be discussing about why I think that traditional education today is not the solution to eradicating poverty; contrary to what so many leaders in society make it out to be. In fact my argument is that education, especially the tertiary variety of it, is one of the leading causes of relative poverty in the Western World today. In this post, I will say why I think it is, along with giving a few alternatives that I believe would be far more useful for young people to use as a platform for learning.
I will start with one education varietal which I think is just hopeless. I am talking here about private (primary and secondary) schools. Parents send their children to these places believing that the more expensive something is, the better it is. There is the thought process of, "if I've got the money then I don't need to send my children to public school". The reality with private schools is that what you get out of them is not any better than what you get out of a public school. People say that with private schools you get a better education due to smaller class sizes and better teachers. This may be true, but the fact is that nothing of what you learn in school (beyond simple reading, maths and writing) will stay with you throughout your career/life. Public school will teach your children the simple stuff just as well. And as for the social aspect, Public School will do that for your children better. Simply because they will be taught to interact with a wider group of peers from different demographics. The socio-economic class that can send their children to Private School is limited by comparison. And while it will be socially detrimental for your children in their futures, it will deliver a massive whack to your/their parents bank account today. The 50th most expensive private school in the U.S. is $35,000 for tuition alone, not to mention for all of the "extras" like tuition books, blazers, sports gear etc.
College on the other hand is not entirely useless, only half of the courses on offer are. My larger problem with the "learning platform" that is college, is that it is an expensive platform to learn from. For certain courses like education, and the sciences, there is probably a bit of usefulness to have them taught. For courses like those in agriculture, business and specifically in marketing and small business, there is no use in having them in the curriculum. By doing them though, parents and their children (who are taking the courses) are made to feel (incorrectly) that they are part of Business community. But worse than this, is that the teachers themselves are made to feel that are part of something and that their work is benefitting the individuals they are teaching. All the students are really a part of, is paying hand over fist for needless stress. Many 20 and 30 something's in today's world are floating in a sea of student debt because of this myth that (traditional) education is the key for a successful life. Total student debt in the U.S. now stands at $1.2 trillion.
In some senses though, there is a purpose in the College degrees I have described as useless above. Because many individuals in the Business community (wrongly as well) perceive them to have value. But in reality this perception has been changing. Google as an example, regards learning ability as far more important than what College an individual went too. In fact, they regard people who didn't go to College as the more unique one's, who likely are harder workers.
What parents and young people need to be looking at today, are those alternative learning platforms; which often are cheap, efficient and directly useful. I am talking here about share and commodity trading platforms, and plain old Entrepreneurial activities. I believe that these platforms for learning are not only better; they are more effective and actionable than traditional pathways like private school and college.
Concerning share and commodity trading, what I am really talking about is online-trading platforms, which I believe to be brilliant places for learning. The reason I think they are, is that when real money is on the line, as an individual you will force yourself to learn and make sure that you know what you are doing. Much more so than you will at a "learning platform" like College, where the investment made, or loss from that investment, is vaguer. The up-front cost of opening an online trading account is generally free as well. Admittedly, a lot of people who go into online-trading lose more than they can afford to. But that is because they go in with the wrong objective. They should (in the beginning at least) go in with the objective of learning, not making money. They should almost see it as a cheaper and more efficient alternative to college.
The best "platform" to learn from though, is I believe, simple plain old Entrepreneurial activity. I believe that rather than encouraging children to study hard for good grades, we should be encouraging them to start lemonade stands and the like. We should teach them to partner with their peers and go into (small) business for themselves. The critical component with this, is to start early. By making a go of it and starting or at least trying to start a business, young people will learn critical "real world'" skills like budgeting, and revenue generation. By learning these skills in an economics class or (fake) New Venture class, these skills will seem fake, and in the context of the Educational sphere, they are fake.
In order to elevate ourselves to a better situation financially, and to properly set-up our young people for life, we have got to stop believing that what worked in yesteryear will work today. With job attainment and security now proven to be a myth for many both young and old, people need to start thinking outside the box if they are going to better themselves financially, and ultimately lead more fulfilling lives.