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Our modern education system is failing us

The Evo team has been growing rapidly over the past year, but we’ve hit the same difficulties faced by many modern companies: there simply aren’t enough qualified candidates. This isn’t due to lack of enthusiasm or interest. It’s that our modern educational system is failing us.

Our current education system was developed around the time of the Industrial Revolution. Teaching students how to fit in and perform repetitive, computational jobs mattered more than anything else. Schools churned out helpful, compliant employees prepared to complete rote tasks— the very tasks now being done by machines. By killing creativity and outside-of-the-box thinking, schools built a working class happy to toil in factories. They did not encourage independent thought.

Today, in the middle of the Digital Revolution, the development of increasingly sophisticated computers has left many smart, hard-working people stranded by the same forms of education that worked so well in the past. Both employers and employees will suffer unless we improve education beyond the assembly-line approach that marches kids through 12+ years until graduation without every teaching them to question the facts.

Processes and facts are obsolete

Nowadays, a quick Google search on our phone can reveal the formula to calculate — or even the answer—  to just about any basic problem. When the school system teaches a student that memorizing these answers or particular formulas is the priority, students fail to learn valuable skills that can be applied in real workplaces. Rote memorization of facts and figures may boost standardized test scores, but it does not facilitate the problem-solving skills that modern companies demand from employees.

While many graduates may have developed their abilities to follow processes, calculate using formulas, and generally follow rules, they often are missing vital creative-thinking skills needed to succeed in today’s workforce.

Education must focus on questions and thought

In order to ensure that students are properly prepared for the real world— and that companies hire the right candidates, teachers must lay the foundation for all the the types of thought processes that fuel innovation at the earliest ages. Of course, people still need to know how to read, do mathematical computation, and understand history and science. However, pure memorization of facts is no longer enough to compete in modern world effectively.

Teaching young people how to think becomes more important than teaching them what to think. Only by fostering curiosity and encouraging questions can we educate young people prepared to invent and innovate.

Forget what, where, when, and how. Focus on the why instead. 

Computers are now better able to analyze massive amounts of data better than any human. If we continue to teach students that these types of rote calculations are their future, they will certainly find themselves made obsolete by ever more intelligent machines. What these machines still cannot do, however, is understand the output and apply it effectively. In other words, students no longer need to decide what the data is showing; they need to consider it critically to answer “Why?” and “What should we do next?”

At Evo, for example, our algorithms can tell our clients vital information about the demand and ideal pricing of an article of clothing, but they can’t design the beautiful dress that will go viral in the first place. No matter how sophisticated our supply chain models may be, they can never fully replace the humans who make of-the-moment adjustments to make sure that everything arrives to the shelf on time. In other words, employers will always need employees with creativity and problem-solving skills, yet our outdated school system stifles these exact abilities.

Use of technology still lags behind

On the surface, schools have changed dramatically in the past decade. Almost all students have access to laptops or tablets in the classroom. Moreover, the average second grader knows more about the internet than most adults. This image, however, disguises a deeper problem. Technology is often used as a shiny new tool to promote the same old way of learning rather than the source of innovation and creativity it could be. Substituting textbooks with digital textbooks isn’t an innovation, so much as a distraction.

Students need to be empowered by technology. They need opportunities to collaborate online, complete project-based learning tasks, and to discover the Internet as a valuable resource for independent problem-solving. Not only will students likely feel more engaged, but they will also be better prepared to complete the kinds of tasks that modern companies ask of them on a daily basis.

As Sir Ken Robinson, author and famous speaker, said in his TED talk, “Many highly-talented, brilliant, creative people think they’re not – because the thing they were good at school wasn’t valued or was actually stigmatized.” These free-thinking students are exactly who we need to build innovative companies that can compete in today’s economy— and who we are most likely to lose unless our education system evolves with the times.

Any company that hopes to thrive in the Digital Age must have creative employees who know how to ask important questions and solve non-rote problems. Evo has found that the combination of innovative technology and creative human input produces the best results possible. Like many growing companies today, we need to hire people prepared to work in new ways alongside changing technologies. We can’t afford to go without these kinds of visionary employees, and our students can’t afford to keep falling behind do to an educational system that is no longer serving anyone’s needs.

The editorial team

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