What would education look like if it was designed to give human beings the possibility to develop all of their talents to the fullest? Growing up, children want to be astronauts, teachers, doctors, musicians, and just about everything else they can think up. But instead children are taught that they are not good at most things. They’re taught they aren’t fast enough or good enough or smart enough, and so they stop trying. Imagine what it would be like if no child was told they aren’t good enough to explore their own talents. Imagine if every child could try every sport, play every instrument, do science experiments and art projects without being judged. A real education would provide every possible tool, instrument, piece of equipment or whatever else children need and let them see what they could do.
Education for teenagers could also be completely different. Why not give teenagers more ways to explore and use their energy rather than cramming them into classrooms? We could make education more hands on. They could learn music with musicians, sports with the athletes, and biology with marine biologists. This learning could be incorporated into doing real work out in the world – building houses and roads, cleaning up neighborhoods, assisting skilled workers on the job and learning the real applications of education. Today this society sends teenagers overseas to die in wars. Why couldn’t we instead send young people around the world to do different kinds of work, to study, and to learn? That would be a real education and a real adventure.
And why should education stop for adults? If every child were given the chance to develop all of their capacities, then by the time they were an adult, they would have many skills and could still continue learning. There’s no reason everyone couldn’t be a scientist, a doctor, an athlete, an artist, a musician, or all of these things. It is a loss for society that so many people stop learning before they’ve even begun their adult lives.
There is no reason education could not be designed in a different way. What is stopping us? Why don’t we build more schools, hire more teachers, and provide educational resources for life? The price tag? Look at the wealth that is wasted in this society. One trillion dollars every year is spent by the Federal government on making war. And that is just the tip of the iceberg. There is $32 trillion held by financial corporations in overseas accounts because they can’t figure out how to invest it in a way to maximize their profits. Let’s open the books and see what wealth this society really has, and then let’s decide what’s possible for education.
Albert Einstein On Education
In his article, “Why Socialism?” in May 1949, Albert Einstein wrote:
The crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism. Our whole educational system stems from this evil. An exaggerated competitive attitude is inculcated into the student, who is trained to worship acquisitive success as a preparation for a future career.
I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an economy, the means of production are organized by society itself and are utilized in a planned fashion. A planned economy, which adjusts production to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done among all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man, woman and child. The education of the individual, in addition to promoting his own innate abilities, would attempt to develop in him a sense of responsibility for his fellow men in place of the glorification of power and success in our present society.