This is a continuation of my previous article So… I dropped out of college. And I’m glad that I did, containing my thoughts about how could the education system be better and how could it work in the future, based on some of the questions/arguments other people presented.
As I said in the previous article, I prefer self-education and I learn basically everything myself. The problem with self-education might be that verifying knowledge is crucial in some areas, where mistakes could cost lives or could do a serious damage, however what I'm mostly objecting to is that there's basically only one official way of doing it and that it's quite fragmented, differing in quality and restricted mostly to these who join such school. I think that should change in all areas, although medicine, high-voltage and such would still require some formal verification that you're really capable of performing a surgery for example, but the way you obtain the necessary knowledge should be more open and free.
Because in the end, it all comes to educating yourself, you can even educate yourself on advanced level. You can do the same with applying the knowledge, you don't need a college for that. I used what I learned myself to create new things - applied it, myself, without anyone's help, in fact, I consider learning how to apply the knowledge to be a part of education, so I don't talk about it distinctively, as it's one and the same thing for me. Gathering knowledge - memorizing some facts is kinda useless if you can't utilize them, in fact, I don't even consider that an education.
I still think that there's a lot that should be changed in the formal education, because there are many things wrong with it, more options should be given to people and they should educate themselves just for the education itself, to better themselves, not because they "must" to get a degree... And like I said in the post, degree itself is quite imperfect way of measuring education, it's more of an ability to pass certain tests, of varying quality. And for such education, quality materials should be prepared and shared with anyone, everywhere.
I do not argue that everything can be learned solely by yourself without access to proper equipment and opportunities that school provides. For example I don't think anyone could learn surgery at home or work in a laboratory with very expensive equipment and for these purposes, he/she would have to get involved with certain programme.
I'm also not arguing that college is not good for everyone or that it's bad generally (though there are some things about the college system that I find bad generally, even for these who need it), as not all people are able to be self taught and need to be motivated by other means than their own curiosity and also require some guidance in their studies.
What I'm arguing though is that it shouldn't be the only option out there and that a simple degree shouldn't be used as a measure of skills and abilities, but rather the skills and abilities themselves should be the official measures of that, that would the employers consider, no matter how you actually obtained them. I'm not saying that everything about college is bad, just that some things could be changed and education system should be more transparent, free and open. I think it should be restructured.
To give a more specific example, for example in computing, you could present your own software creations to your potential employer, whether you made them on your own using abilities you learned yourself or if you went to some educational course where they would help you with the studies (give you lectures, discuss it with you, help you with problems and give you direction about what and how you should learn). In case of surgeons, you could do the same - either you could learn the theory on your own or go to an educational course where they would help you with it (that portion doesn't really matter, as long as you obtain the necessary skills, understanding of the matter and knowledge).
Now for the practical surgery, you would need to actually do some supervised work in some educational facilities, as part of some programme (maybe a bit similar to the college, but you wouldn't collect any points and credits and such, you would collect only the knowledge and skills and work on projects to show that you understand it) where they would teach you that and then, in case you perform some surgery under supervision your performance would be recorded and stored and then used basically as presentation of your skills. When someone would hire you, they would look at how many supervised surgeries you performed and how well did you do and use that information to decide whether you're good or not, instead of just looking at some degree.
That way, you could also obtain various combination of skills from various fields. And the materials for education should be prepared and made freely and publicly available for anyone, anytime. So you could access them if you want to learn about it yourself, no matter if you're pursuing career in that field or just satisfying your curiosity. In fact, these educational courses would use the same materials, but would prepare a structured programme for the students to help them guide through the materials and teachers who would help answer any questions, solve any problems and present the materials in case the student can't understand them him/herself.
As for the motivation, it would be actually completing some project, some goal, some tangible piece of work that would the employers require to hire in certain area. Once you would pick one (or think of one of your own), you would need to actually obtain some knowledge, skills and understanding in order to complete it, so you would either learn them on your own or sign up for an educational course. I want an emphasis on the learning, self-improving and more reliable presentation of your abilities, rather than bureaucracy around it.
I understand that this is large and complex topic and many aspects need to be thought through, but I believe that this system could work better than the current one in most aspects and benefit everyone.