As toddlers, life was pretty easy (for most of us). We cried when we wanted something, pooped our pants, and napped all day. When we got old enough to walk and talk, a large majority of us were phased in the public educational system. We were indoctrinated into pre-kindergarten, which was basically daycare; a year after, kindergarten; then onto 1st grade and beyond until you are to graduate with your cap and gown upon the completion of your 12th year; unless, of course, you flunk a grade level and are required to repeat the previous year before progressing.

The Breakdown

Each year you progress throughout grade levels, the more critical your evaluations become (or, report cards, as they're called.)

Recess and naptime is abandoned, offering restless children an uncomfortable environment to fully learn. It has been proven that napping after studying can help to absorb material better, yet we overlook that, trying to cram in several subject matters throughout the course of a day.

The public school system was developed to raise children to be fit for work in a factory environment; basically robots, producing products with no concious thought. It went for months throughout the year, excluding summer, in which case kids were to assist their family in tending to the farm.

Today, we still abide by the same obsolete model for teaching our youth. Some institutions are taking a more progressive approach toward education, but they are few and far between. It goes without saying that education differentiates among each continent, Asian countries ranking top in placing a heavy emphasis on education.

The Problem

The criteria you are required to absorb and burn into your brain is monitored by the board of education, with little to no regard of the usefulness of such content. Your ability to memorize and regurgitate the content is evaluated by a standardized test (with the occasional free-response or critical-thinking question.) While it is imperative to learn of the current state of the world and what got us here (history repeats itself), we mustn't place so much emphasis on irrelevant topics. History books are written and revised, important content discarded and misrepresented, encouraging ignorance among all.

"I have never let schooling interfere with my education." -Mark Twain

Since this is a one-size-fits-all approach, obviously some children will lose interest. Everyone learns differently, be it through auditory, visual, physical, or whatever, these individual preferences are not accounted for. So you have a small percentage of kids who actually learn and absorb the data, while a disproportionate amount are left clueless and confused. The latter half is labeled "dumb", and since they cannot learn anything, they are informed they have a learning disorder, such as ADD, and are therefore prescribed drugs to tame them. This, is turn, creates a vicious cycle that could lead to a downward spiral of addiction or more severe health complications.

In order to become fully engaged in learning, one must use all senses available. Some may get excited and want to jump up and down; this is unacceptable in most classroom environments as you are bound to the confines of your desk. If you get too rowdy, you are rewarded an infraction for your evaluation report.

Teachers Don't Get Paid Enough

The ones with arguably one of the most important jobs on the planet receive a lousy paycheck for the effort required. Raising the future generation, their salary is minute compared to what it should be. Professional athletes get paid millions to throw a ball around, whereas the amount teachers receieve is embarassing.

We've all had our fair share of good and bad teachers; those that made you absolutely despise a subject due to their instruction or lack of enthusiasm, and those that were passionate about their profession and worked overtime to provide us with valuable information, leaving us craving more. Our instructors have a large emphasis on our future, so ensuring that these individuals are payed appropriately ensures they have an incentive to thrive.

Knowledge Is Power

There is a fine line marking the difference between knowledge and education. Being educated simply means being aware of facts, while knowledge applies to using these facts to produce an accurate result. Take for instance a college student and someone who went to a trade school. While the college students were busy learning the facts, the trade students were applying practical, real-world information to produce results. When it comes time to graduate, the college students will have a nifty degree and accreditation, whereas trade students will not only posess the same, but also hands-on skills. Neither is better than the other; only the relevance to your goals is the difference.

Student of Life

A lot of people have never picked up a book since they last graduated. Forced to scan textbooks cover to cover, learning what they are told, it's no wonder why. Such environments breed disgust for a book, and reading for leisure is never considered an option. Once you get your degree, what's the point, right?

Wrong. Look at everyone who was ever worth a damn, who've done something worthwhile, and then look at their library. The "secret" to success is no secret at all- smart people know that knowledge is key, so they are continually reading and learning new material.

We challenge you to take another viewpoint toward life: always be a student. Never stop learning and feeding your mind. Focus on text that is relevant to your job or career path, information that will help you reach your goals, and don't forget to get lost in the occasional fictional book.

We all have something to learn from one another. Get out there, challenge your beliefs, and always question everything. For an expanding list of self-empowering literature, check out this post.

"Why have so many schools reduced the time and emphasis they place on art, music, and physical education? The answer is beyond simple: those areas aren’t measured on the all-important tests. You know where those areas are measured… in life! Art, music, and a healthy lifestyle help us develop a richer, deeper, and more balanced perspective. Never before have we needed more of an emphasis on the development of creativity, but schools have gone the exact opposite direction in an effort to make the best test-taking automatons possible. Our economy no longer rewards people for blindly following rules and becoming a cog in the machine. We need risk-takers, outside-the-box thinkers, and entrepreneurs; our school systems do the next generation a great disservice by discouraging these very skills and attitudes. Instead of helping and encouraging them to find and develop their unique strengths, they're told to shut up, put the cell phones away, memorize these facts and fill in the bubbles." -Dave Burgess