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Education is held by our society to be one of the keys to success. Certainly, there are certain professions in which formal academic education is a prerequisite not to success itself, but rather just to get into the front door of the profession.

The question we need to ask is whether or not formal academic education as offered in the current structure of our society is in fact a prerequisite, or even a significant help in achieving success in general (as opposed to within a specific profession) and what are the underlying reasons for this.

What is Success?

Before we can do this we need to decide exactly what we mean by success. It has been defined by some as ‘the progressive realisation of a worthwhile dream, goal or ideal’, and this is a good definition, but lacks some of the specificity we need to truly determine the role of education in achieving it.

For the purposes of this article I am going to define success as the following.

Achieving a progressively improving state of making a meaningful contribution with integrity, good health, good relationships, material abundance, and self determination.

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To further explore what this actually means, what I am saying is that;

To be successful is to be making a positive difference in some way, whilst acting in good faith, looking after your health, enjoying and building strong meaningful relationships, being able to do all of this without concern caused by lack of resources, but rather based on what is good and right, and finally, to be in control of your own life and not reduced to unwilling servitude by slavery, ignorance or an oversized mortgage.

Does Formal Academic Education Teach Us to Do This?

If we judge by the results in our western societies, where nearly everyone has had some education, the majority have finished High School, and a great many have gone on to college. We have to seriously question the true value of formal education to the success of the individual.

By the rates of suicide, drug use, depression, and hopelessness in our society, we can infer that there are some deficiencies in our education system in so far as teaching people to make a contribution they see as meaningful.

By both the increasing obesity, diabetes levels and drug problems in our society we can judge that the education system is ineffective in teaching people to be healthy.

By the divorce rates and level of violence we can make an indicative judgement as to the effectiveness of our education system in teaching people to get along and build strong relationships.

By the level of dependence on welfare, the levels of homelessness and the levels of relative poverty in the richest nations in the world, we can take a good guess as to effectiveness of our education system in teaching people to create material abundance in their own lives.

By the by the mere existence of Blue Monday and TGIF (Thank God It’s Friday), we know there are enough people who are forced to do something at least 5 days a week that they would rather not have to do, so we can gauge the effectiveness of our education system to teach people self determination.

I hope this is not too harsh for you, but it is the way it seems from where I sit.

Why is Our Formal Education System so Ineffective?

What nobody tells us is that our existing formal education system is either unable to teach us how to be successful, nor designed to teach us to become successful.

The education system as it currently exists, is based on the needs of an industrial aged society. In the industrial age our own personal interests were in conflict with those of the larger society and of those in power.

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