A dentist friend who teaches in the dental school sometimes was complaining to me about the declining quality of students. No one could explain that the objective of the root canal was to actually help the patient save a natural tooth. The answers given were around the technical aspects of the procedure such as cleaning out the bacteria.
The problem wasn’t that the students weren’t smart. They seem to expect to enter a lesson empty awaiting to be filled with knowledge and content and see their sole role as soaking up what is needed to ace the assessment and then move on with life. We have structured education so much that students think of learning as a means to the end of taking exams. That is a very serious problem and mindset gap that needs to be filled.
These students are not going to be able to deal with problem solving on a forward looking basis. Because we want to train students not to be solving known current problems though that is useful but to prepare them well enough for the problems that may come along in the future. In fact, most of highest level of academia is surrounding discovering problems at the frontier of knowledge to crack them.
Being able to understand and define a problem should precede mastering the solution to solve the problem. I’m not too sure if it’s an issue with intelligence, the system or the culture that we are creating because we have over-optimised on too many things. A system that is over-optimised over-indexes the problems today and the current solutions; without equipping our people with the ability to see beyond and into problems of the future.
That will be a problem we have to treat.