The Bigest Scam In Education

In a previous article I gave 5 reasons why people lose time at school, now I would like to talk a little bit about my own experience to let you see one of situation created by the educational system. I prefer to say in advance that this article will look like a little bit like a text written by a guy who has the impostor syndrome. This is not the case ! I’m just realistic and I conducted some experiments on me to prove it. I also want to say that I’m not the only one in this case and that, as you’ll see, a lot of my friends also suffer from these circumstances.

A little story

Everything starts from the beginning, when I was a young student who was told to learn the multiplication tables. “You need to learn it, it’s important” was the sentence I was hearing every math classes. But, you know I was saying to myself: “Why do I need to learn it ? I can count !”. In a sense it’s true right ? 6 x 7 is just (6 x 6) + 6. After years and years of maths concepts accumulation and a growing sense of “not being designed to do maths”, guess what ? I WAS BAD AT MATHS. Surprise !

Now, I am a computer science master in Tsinghua university (清华大学), China. Oh, for those who don’t know it, let me precise that this schools is in top 20 of CS schools. I guess your reaction now is almost like this : “Woow, you’re a good student, you are probably better at maths now”. I’m used to it, it’s the reaction I encounter every time I say the words : “Computer science”. But the reality is that: It’s totally, 100%, Wrong. A lot of “How can you be in master if you don’t have the level in maths ?” arise. It’s simple, look at the title and you’ll understand what (who) is the biggest scam: Me.

Let me explain you why I say this before you start telling me : “You worked a lot to be here”. Even if it’s true, I didn’t manage to learn smartly and optimally. The educational system failures in addition to my personal ones resulted in what I am now. The worst thing is that I had grade A in my college entrance examination (with maths specialization !). This is the worst thing because some days before I write this article I decided to find my math level. I used the “once you don’t understand, go back to previous knowledge” method, kind of reinforcement learning. And here is the process :

  • I started to read some maths articles on the web and first thing which was intriguing is that I had problem to see in my head what was fractions (yes, fractions).
  • So I then decided to go on khan academy, I review my fractions. The firsts step was easy, it’s just a matter of division.
  • But then I had problems at simplifying the fractions step. I started to search why ? And the answer was: Multiplications (you remember them right ?). I was making a lot of mistakes, stupid mistakes of course because I know how to count but it meant that learning multiplication table is important BECAUSE it permits to reduce the errors you do on fractions but also on all the topics after.
  • And now ? Yes, I’m learning multiplication tables by heart

Some questions

Let me ask you some questions before to conclude:

  • How can we keep accepting to give student this kind of education ?
  • How is it possible for them to not feel bad when they spend big amount of time for simple operations ?
  • How can students enter a college with such a bad level at maths or any other topic ?
  • Is it the students’ fault ? Is it the system’s fault ?
  • Do you have a personal experience like this ? If you have an opinion or answer on these questions please feel free to contact me to discuss about it. Every point of view is welcomed, I just want to know your feeling.

My email is : clementjean13@gmail.com.

Conclusion

Some of you are laughing and some of are asking themselves questions. What I suggest you to do is the same method. Once you don’t understand 100% of the concept find out why and go on previous concept. I’m sure some of you will be surprise of the level they have. One of my friend who is in maths master tried it and he found out that his level was way lower than what he thought.

The point I want to emphasize on is : No one is bad at a topic! You just need to learn it properly. If you’re skeptic (good skill by thee way), try it by yourself ! Maths, to only take one topic, are so important, they permit us to think differently, to solve problems optimally and finally but not least, give you a great sens of achievement.

My goal here was to show you a stupid situation that happen in educational system. It happens in maths but not only, we push students to learn on weak bases in every topic at school. The famous : “class need to move on” is wasting your (or your children’s) time.

I’m hoping to hear from you guys, It can be feedbacks, stories, whatever but I’m really curious about your case. Thank you in advance !

Written on November 9, 2017