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I’d rather learn by doing

| Monday, November 12, 2018

If you think about it, most education is based on “teaching.” We sit in classrooms and are fed information by professors that we need to be able to recite back on an exam at some later time. At least for me, I end up forgetting most of the information I learned within about two weeks of having taken the exam. To be honest, I think this system of education is inefficient. At least in my experience, I learn mostly by just taking action and emulating other people, eventually becoming comfortable enough to make variations. Everything that I’m best at I feel I didn’t learn in school but I learned by watching those around me and copying them to solve my own problems. So with that, I’m going to write my first column on how I think education could be more efficient.

The main problem I see is, in college, there are no high stakes, which leads to a lack of motivation. I’m studying architecture so I’ll use my experiences as an example. At Notre Dame, if I was responsible for designing some aspect of the building and then that design is determined to be faulty, I would receive a bad grade and that would be the end of it. On the other hand, if my design was implemented into an actual building to be built, a faulty design would put me responsible for potentially millions of dollars wasted and lives threatened.= Being in this kind of high stakes situation creates an environment which motivates you to learn as efficiently as possible while also providing you with a reward of tangible value (seeing your design become reality) if you succeed. I think this same idea applies to many fields (medicine, finance, engineering etc.)

I’m not trying to attack the college system because I know universities (Notre Dame in particular) are making efforts towards emphasizing hands-on undergraduate research. Also, professors make efforts to help students understand the real world implications of what they’re studying. However, these well-intentioned encouragements only reach so far because the only way to make students realize the real-world implications of what they’re doing is to put them into situations where there are real world implications.

So, I think an efficient system of education would be to have students out of high school start working on real world problems in a field they might be interested under the advisory of someone with experience. One could argue, “Well some people don’t know what hey want to do right out of high school and they use college to figure it out.” And that’s fine — I don’t think this system would work for everyone, and some might be better served learning in university. But for people who have an idea of the field they want to enter, but are restricted from entering into that field immediately out of high school because they first need to attain the credentials from University or other preliminary tests, this system would be a much more efficient method of education.


The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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