Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Education Is Not The Same As Learning

Education is not the same as learning. Education is about getting a piece of paper that basically reads, “Congratulations, you are good at following instructions. You’re now ready to join the workforce and obey your boss.”

At least, originally.

Public schools were invented to produce factory workers for the growing 18th century industrial economy. And were organised much like a real factory.

A kid entered public school. Got processed for a year. And if he was defective, he got returned to the start of the assembly line to get fixed.

Did the kid clear the first round of testing? Then he moved up to the next round to do the same, until he’d eventually pass all the tests and meet the factory standards.

At graduation, the 19th-century young-adult is ready to leave the farm and work in a dark room for 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. All the while doing as he’s told.

There’s just one problem with this line of thought.

If schools exist to create obedient worker bees. Why do we have colleges and universities? Schools that produce scientists, philosophers, scholars, and all sorts of other free thinkers.

Well, universities existed long before public schools. The University of Oxford predates the public school by over 700 years and was meant for the ruling class. The people who would later run the factories.

So just because universities teach its students to learn, doesn’t mean that modern public schools exist to do the same.

Consider how most public schools teach kids.

If a teen wants to learn about the civil war, a teacher hands her a stuffy 1,000+ page textbook.  Is that how you get someone excited about history?

Now imagine the upcoming history test isn’t about the civil war, but the cold war. Because the teen spread her attention to study the civil war, she flunked the test and got scolded by her teacher and then her parents.

With the scolding in mind, she now knows what matters: passing the test, not curiosity.

Is that helping kids learn and to think for themselves? Is that helping kids to be a success in the real world?


Most public schools reinforce obedience. And our society is worse for it.

Because a person with 12 years of public school under his belt is taught to show up at work and say, “What would you like me to do today?” Instead of, “Ooh, there’s a problem. Let me figure it out.”

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach