Burchill on education - system is still producing

opinionandcommentBy James Burchill

November 20th, 2016



In 1860, due to continued pressure from the various employers, the government developed the first education system: to create literate employees.

The employers of the time were finding it progressively harder to find employees who could read and write.
So bowing to capitalistic pressures the government created a system of public education with the sole intent of creating “literate employees”. Like the modern army where we train people to become soldiers, the education system was created to create “factory workers”.

This was 155 years ago and nothing much has changed since. In fact the education system is still producing “literate employees” – not free thinking, creative types, but human ‘worker bees’ or drones.

The education system instigated testing to measure advancement and learning but now the testing is often more important than the skills they try and train. In fact, most students only focus on how to “ace the tests”. What good is that?

After school the students go on to “higher education” – there is another oxymoron as research shows only a few post graduate students actually end up using their degrees in their careers.

Why spend all that time, energy and money only to not use the degree?


It’s a job!

When asked why they went to University, or why they got a degree the student answers were frighteningly similar – “to get a job”.

We have created a system were the apparent need to get a job is so great that people will spend about four years and $50,000 on a degree for the sole purpose of ignoring it later and using it to apply for jobs!

In conclusion, we create “literate employees” who now feel so compelled and “must” get a degree to apply for a job (which we all now know has no security anyway) to enter a social and economic environment where they are ill equipped to handle the majority of ‘free-agent’ type thinking (remember this creativity was eroded during school years during the mania with testing and NOT creativity) and did I mention that the cost of this education was over $50,000 (I can’t bear to add in the time before University and the lost opportunity costs.)

My point? Simple, if you have children remember this about the system, firstly it is a system and it is antiquated and there solely for the purpose of creating ‘literate employees’. Know that there is no law (at least here in Canada) that says your children MUST go to school – you can home school.

That the training they are receiving is not going to be very helpful in years to come as the work place is becoming more fragmented and a free-for-all-free-agent place (remember school does not train and create entrepreneurs only ‘workers’) and finally that you and I came from this same training and we need to remember what we most likely think about or world is probably wrong.

How we perceive our environment is a function of how we think about it, and how we think about our environment was ‘trained’ into us by the early educators we were exposed to (school, the place where ‘literate employers are created)

burchill-jamesJames Burchill is the founder of Social Fusion Network – an organization that meets regularly in Burlington to allow networking and relationship building.  He also writes and trains people about how to make technology work for them.

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3 comments to Burchill on education – system is still producing “literate employees” – not free thinking, creative types, but human ‘worker bees’ or drones.

  • tenni

    Going to university was never intended to get a job. It was to develop the student’s mind and later critical thinking skills.

    Post graduate education was designed to channel students post grade 12 into trade, applied skills and university.

    Lonely Taxpayer seems to have a better understanding than Burchill.

    I may be wrong but Burchill is off when discussing an education system for Upper Canada(Ontario). The Anglican Church had a significant role initially establishing an education system to separate young Anglican boys from the Irish Catholics boys(girls were not permitted). There was a clear class system in effect. Ryerson Egerton was charged with developing this class and religious school system but it was not until 1870’s that free education was established. The Anglican Church paid a key role while the Roman Catholic Church played another system that was underfunded until 1975. Egerton is also partially responsible for the separation of Indigenous children’s education(by churches) which has now been laid open as a shameful deed.

    But I may digress.

  • True, but teaching ENTREPRENEURIALISM has not been taught as part of the core curriculum … until very recently. Most schools are still churning out employees capable only of following the system: get a degree, get a job, buy a house, get married, get into debt and rinse/repeat. The model is flawed and what we need more of today – more than ever – are more people embracing the entrepreneur model, and the second income side hustle. Putting all our monetary eggs into the job basket is a risky proposition when the world is such a changeable place. Just my 2 cents 😉 #StayFrosty

  • Lonely Taxpayer

    What ??? Schools have been around for 100’s of years. Students educated in Canada typically score high on creative skills – as opposed to rote learning.

    Yes the idea of a school is to educate the student so that they may find employment and live a productive life. And we learn Shakespeare to learn “how to learn” knowing we don’t need to know “To be or not to be” in order to file a word document or pour a double-double.

    Trade Schools. Religious schools. Art schools where students can express creativity. Quebec offers Circus Skills like clowning to be able to join Cirque de Soleil. I’m sure there are performing artists right now doing an “interpretive dance” of the structure of the DNA helix molecule. In the USA, Trump University teaches valuable skills in money management.

    The point is there are many opportunities for alternative education in Canada allowing freedom of expression, creativity and thinking outside the box.