This is one of the main reasons why Ciro Santilli invested in OurBigBook.com.
Ciro believes that the only thing students must be forced to learn is to speak read and write English and that a teacher's main job after that is to help students find their next big goals and also ties into the backward design philosophy.
Everything else, the student must choose.
This idea is generally known as self-directed learning.
This is most notable in University entry examinations of poor countries, where students often have to waste one extra year of their lives to go through preparation for the useless university entry exams. And then, surprise surprise, if they actually get in, they find that this is not what they really wanted to do, and they just go through to the end miserably because they understandably they don't want to risk another year of their lives.
Ciro saw this first hand École Polytechnique which was way freer than his university in Brazil.
Steve Jobs's university dropout stories from Steve Jobs' 2005 Stanford Commencement Address also come to mind.
Video 1. The Purpose of Education by Noam Chomsky (2012) Source.
  • 0:00 discusses education as a system of indoctrination: indoctrination for people to comply with the Establishment and pass tests, vs the Age of Enlightenment in which education should help you achieve your own intellectual/life goals. He suggests without specific evidence that after the 60's there was explicit intervention in the US to increase the indoctrination aspect, of which debt is a part.
  • 15.45: assessment vs autonomy: exams are useless, except as a tool to help improve teaching and self assess. Tells anecdote about little girl who wanted to learn more about a subject, asked teacher how to learn more, teacher said you can't, you have to study for this useless national exam instead which will determine your future, and if I'm rehired or not.
We've created a system where people just wait, and wait, and wait, never really doing what they really want.
They wait through school to get into university.
They wait through university to get to masters.
They wait through masters to get to PhD.
They wait through PhD to become a PI.
And for the minuscule fraction of those that make it, they become fund proposal writers.
And if you make any wrong choice along the, it's all over, you can't continue anymore, the cost would be too great.
So you just become software engineer or a consultant until you die.
Is this the society that we really want?
From True Genius: The Life and Science of John Bardeen Chapter 2 "Roots":
John ([Bardeen].) and Bill ([his brother]) entered the combined seventh-eighth grade at "Uni High," Wisconsin's University High School, in the same year-John from third grade and William from fifth.
Established in September 1911, the school had been conceived as a laboratory for training high school instructors and for testing progressive ideas in education. In its philosophy and organization, Uni resembled the Dewey School. The students were accelerated as much as possible to keep lessons challenging. One goal was to "introduce pupils to high school methods and subjects before they reached the 9th grade." The fourth quarter, offered during the summer, allowed students who had missed work or had fallen behind to catch up. It also enabled the brightest students to complete senior high school in only three years
...
Even with the disruption of Althea’s death, John completed all his Uni High course work by age thirteen. But as he was "a little leery about graduating so young," he and Bill decided to attend Madison Central High School for two years, taking additional mathematics, science, and literature courses not offered at Uni. By the time John had turned fifteen and Bill seventeen, the two had completed every course of interest at Madison Central. There was no longer any reason to postpone entering college. In the fall of 1923 they both entered the freshman class at the University of Wisconsin.
Meanwhile, at the University of Oxford www.theguardian.com/uk/2005/aug/21/highereducation.accesstouniversity Oxford to turn away child prodigies
We have been pushed to consider it, not because of concerns about whether it is psychologically healthy for children to study here, but because of child protection laws which have come into play this year for the first time.
FUUUUUUUCK. And so, in protecting children, we also rob them of their own future. But the official policy as of 2023 is unchanged at least in theory: uni-of-oxford.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/557/~/do-oxford-undergraduate-courses-have-a-minimum-age-requirement%3F Article also mentions Yinan Wang. Can't find his profiles now.
If the choice of what to learn depend on a years long dependency graph of other obligations, which currently are the increasingly interlinked:
you end up without much choice at all.
The lock-in periods must be much more fluid and shorter term than those, otherwise it makes the almost inevitable pivots to success impossible.
This is something that Ciro Santilli has heard from several people at the end of their undergrad/PhD degrees. Some online mentions:
When I realized the biggest reason to continue my pdh was to be dr helps, that's when decided I should probably leave.
www.nature.com/articles/081121a0. paywalled after more than 100 years, thanks Nature.
From the abstract:
Much money, his student went on to say, is spent by various Governments in attempting to discover those people whose thorough education may be expected to bring in a return of value to the State, and the question how best to discover latent genius is an eminently practical one. After cogitation, Prof. Ostwald came to the conclusion that it is those students who cannot be kept on the rails - that is, who are not contented with methodical teaching - who have within them the seeds of genius
Ciro Santilli couldn't agree more... notably students must have a flexible choice of what to learn.
This is a good initiative. It doesn't go nearly as deep as it needs to go to fix students must have a flexible choice of what to learn, but it is a start!