The Illusion of Education

My internship was in a bank and all the time I wondered “When are we ever going to use the accounting I learnt?” And the answer was “Never.”

Teacher shaping the minds of students

Teacher shaping the minds of students / getty image

We all had different perceptions before we got in university about how things are in the college life. Some of us were satisfied with the results, while others, including myself, were not. Our Educational system, in my opinion, is so rotten and immobilizing to our creativity. In our university, we are stuck with curriculums that do not leave an area for research. We are stuck with theories, rather than practice.

Business students, for instance, have to memorize theoretical concepts and definitions, so they would get to choose the right sentence in an MCQ exam that only measures how many pages you memorized. They teach them about “customer satisfaction”, but never how to actually satisfy a customer with real-life situations. They teach them about “ethics,” but not how stuff really works out there in the market. Even though case studies are the closest thing to reality, but they are usually written in one perspective; so rather than encouraging us to do our own research in the matter, case studies are regarded as a way to only earn a 5% grade or participation grades, but the importance of case studies are rarely emphasized or taken into account.

Engineering students, not so much different either, are given numerous proved theories and set equations, but again, rarely unproved theories and findings are provided to them to spark their curiosity and encourage them to find proof for these theories. They are taught mechanics, but not how to use mechanics to build something out of it. Numbers are merely used to solve equations, but not to calculate possibilities. Coding is done in the hopes they would submit before the deadline, but not to actually design something out of the codes compiled together. In UCL, a public research university in London, a student invented a clay 3D printer out of numbers in computer software. Also, in UC Berkeley, a university in California, a team of graduate students designed a new generation exoskeleton that helps the paralyzed walk. In our university, they teach you theories and mathematical rules, but nothing goes beyond that. Research and creative inventions are not even in the image.

Pharmacy students, as well, are not given much space in the areas of research and development either. They are taught chemical reactions, standard medicines and elements nature, but not how to improve the medicines we already have and lessen their side effects. They are not taught “how” to fight a disease and what to look for to create the medicine that should kill it, but only given instructions on what to put on what to make set medicine, or more precisely a “color in a tube”. Students are not given a chance to fight diseases and infections that are coming up every day.

Applied arts students, supposedly the most creative, are still tied up by assignments and certain tasks to make, not freely being given the chance for their imagination to go beyond what should be done.

And most of all, a collaboration between the faculties is never seen. A team of students from all faculties can be encouraged to build something, test it, design it, finance it, budget for it and market it for it, but this is never the case. A real research and development sector in our university is missing. A system, where creative thinking is welcomed and problem-solving is encouraged.

Personally, I haven’t learned a thing from my university education that went beyond the day of examination. This was proved to me when I went on a real internship out there. My internship was in a bank and all the time I wondered “When are we ever going to use the accounting I learnt?” And the answer was “Never.”

I truly believe that education, not just in GUC, but everywhere in Egypt, has lost its way where it is all about grades and GPA, rather than actually learning and gaining knowledge. Our curious selves and creative minds are killed every day and shaped into the same box our predecessors have,denying any sort of creative thinking or problem solving, ignoring the fact that we actually have the ability and the mind to invent and build and ultimately change our future. After all, “The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.” ― Plutarch