Naval Ravikants: Current Educational System is Completely Obsolete

This article is from a YouTube interview to Naval Ravicant.

What’s your opinion on the current educational system? When I ask people in Twitter what they wanted to ask you this question came up a couple times, which was how would you fix it? What’s your opinion on the education system? And what are your thoughts around that?

Naval Ravikant: I think there’s no question.

It’s completely obsolete.

Education system is a path-dependent outcome from the need for daycare, from the need for prisons, for college aged males who would otherwise overrun society, and cause a lot of havoc.

The original medieval universities had guard towers that face inwards.

For example, you have to put a curfew and then you need to lock up the young 18 year old males before they go out with sword and daggers and you know create trouble.

So, college and schools and what the way we think about them they come from a time period when books were rare, knowledge was rare, babysitting was rare, crime was common, violence was prevalent, there was no such self-guided learning.

So I think schools are just byproducts of these kinds of institutions.

Now we have the internet, which is the greatest level of knowledge ever created completely interconnected. So it’s very easy to learn if you actually have the desire to learn, everything that’s on the internet you can go on Khan academy, you can get MIT and Yale lectures online, you can get all the coursework and you get interactivity, you can read blogs by brilliant people, we can read all these great books.

So the ability to learn, the means of learning, the tools of learning are abundant and infinite. The desire to learn that’s incredibly scarce.

I just don’t think that schools matter for self-motivated students, what the schools matter for is one is to keep the kids out of the parents care while the parents go to work.

It creates socialization because kids want to be around their peers, and they want to learn how to operate society with their peers.

But I think it’s purely learning you’re after that learning can be done much more either on your own to through the internet or by uniting through the internet with like-minded groups.

So I think that’s one problem with the current educational system.

The second problem is:

what do you choose to learn?

The current educational system has to have a one-size-fits-all model has to say you have to learn X now and then you have to learn Y.

You know to give you examples where this is obsolete memorization.

In the day and age of Google and smartphones, memorization is obsolete. Why should you be memorizing the battle Trafalgar, why you should be memorizing what the capital of this or that state?

But we still put undue weight on that just because that’s the way it’s always been done.

We’ve lived to a pre-google world.

Another example is when we’re moving along at a certain pace, I’m sure 90 percent of your listeners have had this happen to them, which is they were learning mathematics and at some point they were keeping up they were doing arithmetic and they were doing geometry, then they did strigonometry then they precalculated the calc.

And somewhere in there they got lost. Somewhere in there while building the massive edifice the logical structure that mathematics is.

They missed one lesson. They missed one concept. They missed five classes. Their brain couldn’t think a certain way that something was being explained to them.

It should have been explained visually, but it was being wxplaied numerically, or it should have been expressed symbolically, and it was being explained cartography.

But they were not able to keep up, and the moment you lose that wrong in mathematics the moment you miss that wrong of the ladder, you can’t go to the next one, because now the next one the teacher’s like okey we’re done with pre-calculus now we’re moving on to calculus.

You’re saying wait, I didn’t understand pre-calculus, and I understand how pre-calculus leads from trigonometry to calculus. I missed that whole part.

So now you get the calculus you don’t understand the fundamentals, and now you reduce their memorization. So now you’re like okey dx dy..when I see that symbol i do this.

But now you’ve lost the actual learning you’ve lost the connection to the underlying principles.

So I think learning should be about learning the basics in all the fields and learning them really well over and over. Because life is mostly about applying the basics and only doing the advanced stuff in the things that you truly love and where you understand the basics inside out.

But that’s not how our system is built. We teach all these kids calculus and they work out not understanding calculus at all.

When really they would have been better off served just doing arithmetic and basic computer programming the entire time.

So, I think there’s a pace of learning issue, and then there’s finally what to learn and the whole set of things we don’t even bother trying to teach.

We don’t teach nutrition, we don’t teach cooking. We don’t teach how to be happy positive relationships. We don’t teach how to keep your body healthy and fit. You know we say sports.

We don’t teach happiness. We don’t teach meditation. Maybe we shouldn’t teach some of these things and different kids will have different attitudes, but maybe we should.

Maybe we should teach practical of construction of technology. Maybe everyone in the science project instead of building a little chemistry volcano. Maybe should be building a smartphone.

So, we just haven’t kept up and I have to believe that we can change the system, but we’re not, but you never change the system by taking the existing thing and reworking it.

I don’t believe I’ve been in silicon valley in tech business long enough to know that you’re better of changing it just by creating something brand new.