The Joy of Discovery

“It is not so very important for a person to learn facts. For that he does not really need a college. He can learn them from books. The value of an education in a liberal arts college is not the learning of many facts but the training of the mind to think something that cannot be learned from textbooks.”

–1921, Albert Einstein on Thomas Edison’s opinion that a college education is useless; quoted in Frank, Einstein: His Life and Times, p. 185.

What is School for? I enjoyed watching Seth Godin’s talk about the purpose of schools. It is a simple question and it seems everybody knows the answer. But why most students hate going to school and college every day? Actually, almost all students feel happy when summer comes and nobody will be upset about breaks. Why is this considering that students were not forced to go to college.

As it is mentioned by Albert Einstein, we come to college to learn something that we cannot learn from textbooks. College should prepare students for real life. However, how many of our courses are beyond of the textbooks? How many of instructors care about the purpose of education not evaluations at the end of the semester?
I passed my two requirement courses with an instructor who was the only person offering these courses here in Virginia Tech. He had some slides copied from the textbook and read through them every single session. In those days, I always thought why I am here when I can read the textbook and learn better and quicker. Students should try very hard to get a grade less than A- in his courses because the exams are so easy and straightforward! I guess the instructor get great evaluation grades from students every semester because students feel happy when they get an A. I saw one of my friends recommended this course to others and he said you do not even need to go to the classes and you will get an A :).

Why students forget their goals from coming to college? As it is discussed by Doan Winkel (watch below), many of instructors deprive students the joy of discovery and present the answers to students before even students know and think about the problem. Actually, the procedure is reversed classes and I think that is exactly why most students hate classes.