The quality of our leaders reflects the quality of our higher education system

I was already deeply unimpressed by the Republican party, but I hadn’t realized how completely and utterly superficial America’s leadership (and the entire machine responsible for rotating those leaders) had become until I watched the 2012 Republican National Convention. It was as artificial and insincere as a fast food restaurant, and all the makeup and flashy backdrops in the world couldn’t dress up that pig. That turd was polished as well as it could be, and it was still an offensive pile of shit. To be fair though, I’m sure the Democratic National Convention won’t be any better.

The entire 2012 presidential race in America has been a gigantic, flashing red warning light that America is desperately long overdue for an intervention about how fake its political machine has become, but it also points to another, possibly more important issue. Everyone who made a fool of themselves during the 2012 presidential race held a degree from an accredited university. Some of them had masters and doctorate degrees from prestigious schools known for their high academic standards.

The standardized higher education system we’re using to educate the people who are running the world doesn’t work. If you need more evidence then look at any career field in the world, but possibly the purest example of the ineffectiveness of university degrees is the American military officer caste. Every enlisted soldier has stories of woefully (and I mean woefully) incompetent officers. I’m not saying every officer is incompetent. I’m saying there are enough incompetent officers to constitute a pattern, and if we trace that pattern back to its source we can fix the problem. The problem (other than the UCMJ) is the broken higher education system.

Nobody likes to admit when they’re wrong, especially people whose careers are based on the premise that they’re smarter than everyone else, but humanity can’t afford another generation of leaders as conceited and incompetent as the ones we’ve got now. We can’t even afford to endure the incompetent leaders we have now. The failures of the higher education system are felt in every career field every day. The cumulative affect is that it’s killing people. It’s lowering people’s quality of life and the potential of the entire species. I would even go as far as to say that the failures of the higher education system are pushing the Doomsday Clock in the wrong direction.

How can we fix this problem? The most fundamental change that needs to happen first is that every level of education needs to be free. As long as credentials are sold higher education will be a glass ceiling for the poor, schools will compromise their effectiveness for higher earnings and students will be set up for failure.

If you want to design a better education system then you need to talk to people who understand how the human mind works. If the American Psychological Association had been in charge of the Department of Education (and its funding) all along we might not be in the place we are now.

It frightens me how blatantly broken the higher education system is, but it can’t be fixed because it can’t be changed because it’s so suffocated by bureaucracy.  Plus, there are too many people making too much money ripping off students to let anyone change the system in any way that would lower their profit margin. However, free online video schools like The Khan Academy and M.I.T.’s open courseware will make the traditional higher education model obsolete once they’ve created downloadable content for every class in every subject at every level. If America had given its entire Iraq War budget to The Khan Academy and/or M.I.T. then everyone in the world could be going to university for free to study whatever they want as long as they want at their own pace by 2020.

Some day that will happen, and then students won’t have to pay half their life’s wages to learn about their professors’ personal lives, how to bullshit their way through Power Point presentations or how to cram for an exams on topics they’ll never use again. Once students are free to learn whatever they want and/or need without having to endure a traumatic gauntlet of unreasonably complicated, irrelevant assignments then universities like the one that Herman Cain graduated from will die a natural death, and the world will be a safer, more productive place.

It sure would be nice if we could speed that process up a little, because stupid people are getting too close for comfort to the red button.

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