There are three approaches to education. (1) We should learn strictly to apply knowledge to our practical concerns. (2) We should learn for the sake of understanding the world. (3) The two strategies needs to be intermingled.
Most students today are not concerned with knowledge. They go to college to get a job. When in class, they do not care to understand what they are learning. All they wish to receive is merely a combination of tricks that need to be mastered in order to do well on the exam. However, others, find this to be repugnant to the extreme. Some students are deeply interested in learning and have almost no use for the seemingly meaningless tricks they are forced to memorize in class.
Consider the following example. Most mathematics students are not interested in learning the theories behind the mathematical notions. They merely wish to manipulate symbols proficiently enough to get an A on their test. However, it is to be noted that the higher the level of the mathematical discourse is, the higher the drop out rate is. Many graduate programs report a drop out rate of above 50%.
What could be the cause of this? The answer is very simplee. The more complex the problems become, the more difficult it is to learn them by route. When this happens, a genuine understanding of the subject matter becomes a prerequisite for high results. Is this truly a problem? Most students do not make it to graduate schools and certainly are not forced to solve difficult problems in their education. Hence, they attain their diplomas having learned almost nothing. It is to be noted that when I entered Oakland University (Home - Oakland University), 20% of Freshmen were illiterate.
My dorm neighbor averaged 20 grammatical and spelling errors per page in essays that he asked me to proofread. However, he did not drop out of college and finished his High School education with a 3.2 GPA. How did he do this? He did what the instructors asked. Or simply, he learned the tricks he was taught. What is the consequence of such people graduating with honors? Our society becomes mindless and stupidity is painful. I doubt that I need to remind anyone here about the mindlessness aspect of our society. In order to discover confirmation regarding the truthfulness of this claim, one needs to look no further than MTV.
One may say that this is unacceptable and our educational system needs to be radically altered. People should no longer be allowed to pass classes having learned nothing. They should be forced to be creative and to think critically as opposed to merely regurgitate the incantantions bestowed upon them.
Would this truly be desirable? If this was to happen, the drop out rate would exceed 50%. Students would learn literally nothing, as opposed to almost nothing.
People by their nature are unreflective and impulse driven. (S) Not all Sensors are stupid, but most of them are. The very few of them who are not would survive such a program, however, most of them would regard creative and analytical thinking as simply too difficult. Even the Sensors who are not stupid are simply not motivated to use Intuition, even if they have outstanding skills using Intuition. This is precisely what it means to have a certain temperament; to be in tune with one way of functioning and to regard the contrary modus operandi as unnatural at best. Rigorous self-discipline is necessary in order to function in a way that is unnatural consistently. Most clever Sensors have neither the self-discipline nor the incentive to be reflective. In short, this amounts to the fact that it is simply useless to educate them as they will never take advantage of what they learned.
The fact remains that these people comprise over 70% of the population. It is senseless to construct a system of education that does not accomodate them. That is the case because if we do not accomodate them the majority of the population would be even less educated than it is now. In addition to that, most educational facilities would go bankrupt. The stupid sensors (who comprise over 60% of the students) would drop out and the clever sensors would be in intense opposition to the curriculum imposed upon them.
If we keep things the way they are a catastrophe is avoided, however, on the other hand, the very few people who are willing and able to think critically are deprived of the inspiration to do so because their school merely trains and does not educate them. The message becomes obvious; if you wish to learn, you are on your own.
Reconciling the interests of those who see knowledge as an end in itself and those who see it as means to an end is a profound social problem. I challenge all students of education to solve it.