The Case Against Education is old-school, here is what you should worry about.

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Education System
Our Education System
TNov 29 · 15 min read

Something is already lurking behind the mainstream narrative.

This is not a tutorial for earning money by earning a degree, if you want to earn money trading, here is a good one. It was 2014 when I appeared a test for the English language, called “International English Language Testing System”. Many people know it. Are you a native English speaker? You might not have heard of it, but for everyone (non-natives) who wish to study in a foreign country in the English medium.

The list of English-speaking countries is long, starting from the United Kingdom, The United States, New Zealand, Australia, etc. English is accepted as a medium of instruction in many countries around the world. In my country Nepal, I was privileged enough to learn in English medium along with my native language Nepali. Today, I believe I am more fluent in English to express myself than in my language. English has infiltrated my vocabulary and thoughts. It has however helped me connect with interesting people and ideas that otherwise would not be possible.

Speaking of my 2014 Test, I did not need to prepare for the test. A day before my test I looked at the model test and learned how the test was structured. I was confident that I would make through it. The results came, I secured 7.0 out of 9.0 I believe. I don’t bother anymore to look at the results again while writing this post because the specifics say nothing. I had been teaching German for about a year and a lot of things mixed up probably. In German, “is” in English is “ist”. I wonder if I wrote “ist” instead of “is” in my English Test!

I never had the time to check it again during the examinations. For the people who think English is difficult to master, I don’t have any suggestions because I learned English along with my mother-tongue and I do not know how it feels to learn it as an adult. I still remember by the first day of learning German in 2013.

For a non-native speaker of languages, we do have a lot of difficulties in learning a language. First thing, we never had a chance to learn the correct pronunciations until I met native English speakers and caught most of their accents and flow of expression. I realized that the best way to learn a language when you’re already at an advanced level is from a native speaker.



This is because you’d be able to follow them well enough to correct yourself where you lack in various aspects of your skills. This is not however true to every student. Not everyone reaches a near-native level of English skills throughout their life because of many things that lack in their skill-set. Limitations are mostly in people’s ability to speak in abstractions and vocabulary. To get an in-depth skill in English grammar should not be a bigger challenge than being able to use rich vocabulary. The rich use of vocabulary speaks of a person’s ability to address a lot of subject matters. According to the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR), as described here by Wikipedia.

Without clear communication, it is not possible to share ideas and get your points through. Rich communication requires one to understand implicit meanings while communication. For the masters, the CEFR dictates that one should be able to express themselves spontaneously in a precise manner in finer shades of meanings.

This means an user at highest level of skill in English will be able to understand almost everything he hears and reads, and can express what he heard or read in his way in different ways, either written or spoken in a very precise manner, dissecting finer details of ideas and expressions, and is able to bring a lot of light in the contrasting features of the subject matter to a native audience of English language. This standard from CEFR applies to every language as it is a general guideline of what to expect.

Now comes the interesting part! How do you test language skills?

There are two ways to formally test language skills.

  1. Manual Testing
  2. Automated Testing

Manual Testing means the language skills of a user is tested manually by humans. A user is supposed to appear in written tests, spoken tests, and in tests for listening.

Automated Testing means the language skills of a user are tested automatically by machines. A user is supposed to appear in written tests, spoken tests, and in tests for listening. The user inputs are fed to the computer with special programs that interpret the input in some ways and decides on the user’s language skills! How interesting! We’ll come to this soon later in this essay.

Four parts of a language skill test are tests for listening skills, speaking skills, writing skills, and reading skills.

a. Listening Tests

This test consists of questions that are in audio format. The audio is played on the loudspeakers or headphones, and the user is instructed to understand the audio, and then answer certain questions on-the-fly while the audio is running. Listening tests vary from language to language. For many parts, questions are repeated twice whereas, in some parts, the audio is only played once.

b. Speaking Tests

This test consists of questions that are either asked in person, or by a computer where a user would need to speak on a microphone and the computer records his voice to be submitted to a central server/computer from the test center. Interesting, aye?

c. Reading Tests

In this test, the users are instructed to interpret texts and give answers accordingly by either choosing some options provided as answers to questions, or fill-in-the-blanks questions or match-the-following type questions. There are no limitations to creativity to ask questions here. In Automated testing, the written texts (typed ones) are interpreted by computers.

c. Writing Tests

This test consists of questions/tasks which demand users to write something as a response to the questions asked in their style to check the users’ ability to produce original texts. Different language tests have different ways of testing skills. Essays, summary writing, and opinion pieces are common writing tasks.

I might have already caught some interest in Machine Learning or “Artificial Intelligence” specialists by now. They’re one of the most important audiences of this essay apart from my audience in the ‘users’ niche especially looking to understand how these tests even work, the market behind the tests, the notion behind those tests and the language business ecosystems based around a simple test of English language. For your short information, the Australian market for English coaching business is more than 150 Million Australian Dollars (AUD) to my estimation, this is ever-growing.

For those who are looking to enter into immigration services, the Australian Market is in order of billions of dollars a year. Great Britain is another big market around language and immigration services. I’ve analyzed a lot of markets during my Ghostwriting life, so far these markets are the best place to build a startup without worrying about financials.



THE CASE AGAINST EDUCATION NARRATIVE

The case against education narrative is slowly gaining some attention. One liner, the current mainstream education model is not working to create values but it works to create debt, it kills potential productive time, and slowly condition people into the mainstream funnel of modern slavery.

Who were the actors in the past who meddled with our perspective of the world? If you look at the history of the world, there have been countless incidents of mass-manipulation through various tricks and some old tricks never cease to exist. One of the old tricks is to blame the unknown. It just means that one blames entities that are never known in any sensible ways to justify the cause of one’s actions. For example, people who have killed other people just because they thought their targets were possessed or were witches or were the children of the devil!

In my country, as the story goes, after her husband’s death, a woman had to be burnt alive with her dead husband. This was called “Sati Pratha” in Nepal. “Sati” is the ancient Goddess of power and purity in Hinduism, who put herself into flames when her father disrespected her husband Lord Shiva in-front of many gods and goddesses.

This is well documented in our history books and this system was abolished not many decades ago! Taboo? There might be such practices written over your history books too.

So education …

The way of Education sounds as if it were very simple in the past. People did not go to schools as you and I went to! My maternal grandfather did not go to school. He was quite wise at many things although some of his decisions were very questionable. I believe we all make mistakes and sometimes, some of our mistakes cost us a lot more than we can comprehend before we make one. As far as Hinduism goes, people went to Saint’s homes to learn things.

There have been fantastic stories on what went into those schools in Hinduism. I guess there are many stories in other religions too! Now we go to schools because we need to { fill in it yourself because people come up with all sorts of reasons to go to a formal school, for most of the people it is a degree that is expected to pay a lot in future }.

I wanted to be a professor! This is also what I told to the official in the German Embassy as I was summoned for my Interview for a Student-Visa in 2016. Honestly, I believed professors can and do change the world. Some do! Many don’t get lucky. I finally realized I did not want to play Academia for at least some years from now for a good reason. Keeping me out of “University” made me happy again and I found that I’m not the only one in the “I ditched the University, turns out I can’t marry the Academia” club, although I have to be honest here that I have questioned some of the professionals if there was a direct entry to a Research Position without too much bureaucracy involved.

The big social game is, students, do not go to university to study! It is something else. It is for entitlement for the most, and a way to ladder oneself up to the corporate thrones. Robin Hanson has to agree to what I experienced because he’s got the Professor’s perspective and me, I had the students’. Watch this video where he spills the bitter beans, take it with sugar, or honey, or salt. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtMBLpqNhPg

How did formal education come to be? A good video explains how American Education came to be. Why do I have to point this? Well, American Education is a point of reference to most of the world. A little perspective from history is a good thing, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ho7PPR93XJk

There is nothing wrong with formal education, iff it serves the true purpose of education. What is the true purpose of education? This is your food for thought. Please come up with some answers and ask yourself, is it serving your good interests in the world? I would love to believe this firmly that no child thinks ill of the world, but something changes people, what is it? Where did you miss the bells?

Before I continue further, I would love to dedicate myself to a peaceful song, You can join me too! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jMlFXouPk8

Yes, that was a great song for me! Did you join in too?

WHO AM I? I’m NOBODY. but I’ll CONTROL YOUR LIFE.

Says who? boxes.

Never had been boxes so powerful that they can now detect you from every single picture you have on your hard-drive. Boxes are getting smarter, boxes have memory and they’re not hazy like yours, they do not forget, they do not forgive, they are watching you!

“Who am I ?”, asks the box.

“Nobody”

Smiles the box as planned.

A box is slang for a computer. In the Cybersecurity world, we call it a host, or a server. A box is easier.

If you do not know what boxes can do, please follow this special guy who is at the edge of every cool technological advance, and he might come handy to your company or client if you ever needed an innovation advisor. I admire his efforts to keep us updated and hence the mention https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GdRZZxfjXA for Matthew Griffin.

For the scope of this essay, if you are not even remotely related to Computer Science, you might have presumably heard of the buzz, “Artificial Intelligence”. It used to make a lot of sense to me when we used to have these little debates in schools, and the “speakers” would speak about technological advances and their possible implications to our lives and future generations. We were kids, we knew nothing significant about how it all makes some sense to feed computers a lot of data and expect something sensible out of them until I had to attend all the online lectures from MIT on Artificial Intelligence.

Please check this link if you are thinking about pursuing Artificial Intelligence Majors in your Academia or just simply want to check if this intrigues you at all, https://ocw.mit.edu/courses/electrical-engineering-and-computer-science/6-034-artificial-intelligence-fall-2010/lecture-videos/lecture-1-introduction-and-scope/

A break there.

We were talking about languages. How are languages and boxes related?

When you choose specific language tests like Pearson English Test (PTE), a famous English Test in Australia, you need to understand a few things before you even try to attempt it so that you do not face disappointments. Why am I talking like this? Remember my IELTS examinations? There was a nice lady who took my Speaking Test inside the British Council in Kathmandu back in 2014. We had a nice conversation and somehow she marked my skills and probably it was a duet-marking system because our conversation was on-the-record. Anyways, I passed the test.

My test was a manually tested one. I wrote essays in the writing section, everything was by hand. The papers were also probably checked by real people, and they assessed our skills. Behold the Box, PTE examinations are fully automated, and something happens between your exams and your results. This is what I am going to explain. Why was it needed? How reliable can it be? How big is the market? Who are the players? and finally, How do you beat the system once you figure out the input-patterns?

Before I continue even further, I would love to dedicate myself to another beautiful piece of music without lyrics, You can join me too! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mVW8tgGY_w

Every year, thousands of young students travel abroad for studies. They want a world-class degree from reputed universities around the world. Those who do not have English as their first language have to go through a language assessment test mostly, so they have a few options to choose to do this and one of those options is to take the PTE Test. The number of English Test takers are staggering, and sooner or later, there will be so much demand on English tests that automation is the only sensible way to address a large demand cost-effectively. Anything that people can automate, people will automate it by all means.

Automating an English Test? Are you crazy? Are you Nuts?

One might think of the absurdity of this idea of automating something that is so much subjective. Language is as subjective as it can be, although there are a few parts to objectively deal with.

Imagine a computer that records your voice, and it processes your written answers and voice to give you an automated score. This is the state of the PTE Test.

What is machine learning? It is a field of computer science where a computer is fed some data, trained to recognize certain features and then the computer becomes good enough to detect the predetermined features. An example of this would be a computer that can recognize pictures of cats from any picture it is fed to, even the pictures of the cats it has never seen before! Don’t believe me? Here’s someone who made a machine learning model that detected his cat bringing a dead mouse to his house and his “machine learning” system locked the cat’s door whenever the cat brought a dead rat! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bW8b1gWMaJk

Similar learning techniques use algorithms to match your voice to a pre-recorded data-sets. They process the voice data through a computer that runs a machine-learning algorithm to figure out your speech.

Shortcomings in the current models of Language Tests

a. No sensible feedback

There’s no sensible feedback mechanism in any English-Test systems in the world. A single test can cost as expensive as 200 USD. Do the test-providers do not want to reveal their flawed systems? Do the manual testers do not want to expose their marking criteria? Why there is so much concealing of information on test-evaluations and why that technology is not an open-source technology?

I have only one hunch for this. Biases exist in people and systems and there’s a big business waiting. A built system can be full of many more biases than humans.

Since there is no objective feedback of the tests, and test-takers need to try a lot of times.

b. Automated tests are not the complete future, but this is where it is going.

For those people who believe people screw up while assessing test-takers, they’re at luck, enter the automated tests. For those who are skeptical about automated tests, they’d rather prefer manual assessments like IELTS. I believe it is easier to game a computer model as we do not know the personal biases of human examiners, knowing the fact that humans are very bad in “statistics by intuition”.

c. Expensive tests

It is a business if you’re making a lot of profits ! what else can it be?

An automated test like a PTE costs a lot, 200 Dollars at least. Why does an automated cost so much? It is quite reasonable when humans work manually over answer sheets for hours to make an assessment, however for a system that’s been running for years and earned enough money, why does the cost increase over time?

d. No transparency

Why do tests hide questions? An interesting downside of a standard model is, it is just a model and not quite the representation of the truth in many ways, especially in something so subjective, like language skills!

Transparency would create a better understanding of question patterns. Every week, there are hundreds of tests all over the world, and if those questions are the same everywhere, it is a really bad model I’d say. Here is how automation would shine to produce random questions. However, there is no transparent publishing of all the past questions, or is there?

Transparency is a motivating factor to push people to contribute and make the system better.

How big is the market?

Language Courses and tests are a big market, in order of millions of dollars per month. In Australia alone, the market is as big as 150 Million AUD per year. For languages like Korean and Japanese, the demand is high in my country, Nepal. Teaching English in China, Brazil and India is big business too. Although detailed market research is out of the scope of this article, you can imagine the impact of the English language alone in countries where English is not the native language.

How do you beat the system without knowing what’s inside? We test it like a black box. ( For PTE )

  1. Follow their guidelines

Read the marking system very well and make a map of how marks distribute themselves in each test. This will help you see different weights in different areas of the test so that you know where you could score a lot or lose a lot of marks in the test.

2. Black box testing

As I have met people who took PTE tests, more than 10 times but still failed because they did never probably see the patterns. One needs to learn about the hit-and-trial method and how it applies to black-box testing for PTE tests. With sufficient tests, one gets the hang of it and finds a pattern. Clever students figure out the system quite fast and get their desired scores in a few trials.

Apart from these very general techniques, Learngaroo Learning, a new unorthodox coaching center in Melbourne does have quite a detailed list of tips and tricks on how to beat the system. Join the Telegram group by clicking here.

What does Learngaroo Learning offer?

  1. An in-person environment to learn tips and techniques to crack English Tests like PTE, NAATI, and IELTS with experienced instructors.
  2. An online learning experience for those who are not in Australia.
  3. A guarantee that you would improve the next time you appear your tests.

I will continue this article. If you are learning English or looking to crack your language exams like IELTS, PTE and TOEFL tests, Learngaroo Learning is ready to serve you online or in person. Just give them a call at www.facebook.com/learngaroo OR on the Telegram Group https://t.me/learngaroolearning

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