Why Academics is Full of Empty Calorie Education
How skwealthacademy is Different from All Other Schools in the World, Part 2
Study hard, get good grades, achieve entry into the best university possible to secure the highest paying job possible. This is the blueprint every child hears in every nation in every classroom in the world. Only it is wrong. Severely wrong. This is the belief system of a mentally diseased-ridden society and one that only persists because the inhabitants of society migrate towards mental disease instead of clarity.
At skwealthacademy, I present a multitude of exercises in my courses that will undoubtedly challenge many of you to re-think your core beliefs about life, perhaps for the first time in your entire life. Have you ever thought about the reasons why the saying, “Ignorance is bliss” is known by nearly every single person in the world, regardless of culture, nationality, religion and race? Those that set economic and political agendas in every nation first and foremost desire nations full of behaviorally-conditioned, unthinking and ignorant people, as such populations are not only the easiest to command and control but also the easiest in which to find prisoners that can be put in charge of running the gulag. Societies populated with ignorant citizens will never revolt, even when imprisoned with increasingly tyrannical rules, thereby ensuring that the ruling class will rule for another 100 years. However, more importantly for us, we need to discover and fully understand the academic tools they implement in classrooms that keep us desirous of remaining ignorant. I once heard Catherine Austin-Fitts, an alumnus of the same Ivy League school as myself, brilliantly liken our economy to a tapeworm economy. Ms. Austin-Fitts stated that just as a tapeworm is a parasite that makes its host crave the very nutrients it needs while systematically killing its host, global bankers make entire nations hand over the monetary resources they need to become stronger while simultaneously weakening the financial futures of every person living within these economies.
Using this same analogy, our institutional academic system is a tapeworm education system that makes us crave the very behaviors and beliefs that those in power want us to adopt, beneficial to their control over us and detrimental to our pursuit of intellectual and personal freedom.
In 2019, American teenagers declared becoming a social media influencer as their most desired job, with the social currency of “likes”, “reposts”, and “followers” more highly desired than the much more important social construct of life purpose. Ever since graduating from an Ivy League university and securing two additional Master degrees (including an MBA), I’ve acknowledged that these academic pursuits provided little value to the success of my entrepreneurial pursuits and to the development of my intellect. I quickly realized that a traditional business university “education” not only had near zero utility in the real world, but that it was also harmful to my ability to succeed in the real world, due to mountains of disinformation dispensed to me through academic textbooks and professorial lectures. This is not a statement I make lightly, and I provide proof of this statement throughout many courses in my online Academy. Unfortunately, only after I attained these advanced degrees did I discover little correlation between the knowledge I had gained in school and the knowledge that was necessary to succeed in the real world (click here to find the link to download a full description of the skwealthacademy curriculum).
Regarding the pursuit of specialized degrees such as engineering, medicine, nursing, and so on, I firmly believe that a university and graduate level degree bestows a great deal of essential applied knowledge, unlike with a business education. If you’re uncertain of what you want to do with your life, and you spend four to eight years of your life obtaining a diploma in an area with a higher degree of applied knowledge, the diploma can still be useless to the pursuit of a happy and fulfilling life. This was the case for me, as I attained a degree in neurobiology but never did anything with it after graduation, as I decided I did not want to pursue a career in medicine. Even if we are certain of our desire to pursue a specialized degree, we must still remain very wary of the heavy behavioral conditioning that often is imbedded in the academic work that accompanies specialized degrees. Even among these science-based degrees, many universities’ curricula still leave a lot to be desired in critical thinking skills, as you will learn in the courses of my Academy. If we really want to discover the truth about any matter, we may do so, nearly every single time, by merely “following the money.” If we do so with the US pharmaceutical and medical industry, we will discover that many top-tier US medical schools and associations have maintained decades-long to century-long relationships with the US banking Rockefeller clan, who have frequently “donated” multi-million dollar amounts to schools with top medical schools. As we all know, the very wealthy and powerful do not just hand out millions of dollars out of the “charity” of their hearts, but they often have hidden and very devious ulterior motives for doing so. Of course, some wealthy “philanthropists” do not have ulterior motives for their massive donations to schools and they deserve our praise, but they are the exception, not the rule. However, we must always follow the money to understand the truth of “charitable” donations.
In fact, if curiosity inspires you, you may start your research into the deep and long-lasting connection between the Rockefeller’s enormous monetary contributions to hospitals, medical schools, and national medical associations, and the propensity of doctors to prescribe prescription drugs at a disproportionate rate to their medical necessity, a practice that often directly benefits the Rockefeller’s accumulation of enormous wealth (Source: Ruesch, Hans. “The Truth About the Rockefeller Drug Empire: The Drug Story”. http://www.whale.to/b/ruesch.html and Webb, Otis. How We Do Harm: A Doctor Breaks Ranks About Being Sick in America, New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2012). Most of us would agree that schooling
should enhance and improve the quality of our lives as we transition from children to teenagers and eventually into young adults. I firmly believe that traditional brick and mortar classrooms in every nation in the world today emphasizes the wrong ideologies and platforms to achieve this critical mission of education. No matter in what nation a young adult attends school, he or she will be exposed to the exact same narrative from the time he or she is a very young and very impressionable child:
(1) Study hard and achieve good grades.
(2) Get the best grades possible to attend the best university possible.
(3) Attend the best university possible to secure the best paying job possible.
And over and over again, throughout the entirety of our academic careers, we are conditioned to believe that the above path is the path to success and that the ability to buy and consume luxury goods is the crowning achievement of success. However, glaringly absent throughout our academic lives are any lessons about leaving a legacy, demonstrating compassion throughout one’s life to improving our communities, uplifting our brothers and sisters down on their luck and in need, finding purpose in our lives, or even conducting oneself honorably and with integrity in the pursuit of material wealth. When I was in business school, a specialized major in technology was offered and during student orientation, the Dean mentioned that a handful of additional slots were being offered for anyone that wanted to apply for this specialized concentration. Instead of fielding questions from students interested in learning more about this specialized concentration, the Dean was presented with a question from a student that had already gained acceptance into this specialized track that wanted to know if the addition of more students into the program would negatively affect his earning potential upon graduation. I don’t blame the student for being so narcissistic because every part of the institutional academic conditioning process during our lifetime is geared towards creating an obsession with earning potential as the only metric for not only academic success but also for life success. At skwealthacademy, I completely unwind the nonsense embedded in the above narrative and plan to disrupt the way every skwealthacademy member defines success by ensuring that additional elements necessary to live a valuable life are every bit as important to our definition of success as simple monetary and material wealth.
As a former Private Banker and former Private Wealth Manager for a Wall Street firm that interacted with some of the wealthiest individuals in the United States on a regular basis for many years, I was often struck by how many of the wealthiest people I met were exceedingly lonely and unhappy, and this seeming contradiction required some time for ingestion and comprehension. After some thought, I realized that I too had bought into the ridiculous notion of success taught by teachers and professors in the academic system. Consequently, when I encountered many people that resided in the top 1% to 5% of income earners in America and found them to be miserable, cognitive dissonance set in because I had been conditioned to view them as “successful”. Had I properly perceived people with incredible material wealth but little to no happiness as “unsuccessful” as is the proper perspective, I would have experienced zero cognitive dissonance. My cognitive dissonance only arose due to the fact that I resided in a mentally-sick society that embraces diseased notions of success.
Such mentally-sick notions of success are propagated not only at all levels of schooling, but also by many of the most visible leaders of society. For example, US President Barack Obama praised the South Korean school system as a model to which American students should aspire due to its great “success” rate in consistently producing the top-ranked students in the world in regard to scores on standardized reading and math exams. In fact, emphasis is so high in South Korea upon students to attain lofty grades that the enrollment rate in hagwons, classes attended by students after “regular” school ends and geared towards achievement of high grades on university entrance exams, was estimated to be about 75% of all South Korean high-school students. With the additional academic burden of an after-school hagwon, a typical day for the majority of South Korean students consists of schooling from 8AM to 10PM, or even midnight, a brutal academic schedule that leaves little time for the proper mental and physical development of teenagers. This is the very definition of a mentally diseased society. The tragedy of a narrow focus on academics, praised by a US President, is that such a tunnel-visioned focus on academic achievement over true education often results in high rates of suicide among children.
Along with US Presidents, South Korean teachers regularly dole out horrible advice to young impressionable students, warning young students to achieve high grades if they desire any chance to be “successful”. Unfortunately, when a US President, popular throughout the world, praises empty calorie schooling from 8AM to midnight as a wonderful system to which American students should aspire, this only reinforces the notion of a mentally diseased society as a desirable one. Any type of knowledge that promotes the achievement of high grades without any true sustenance (applied knowledge) that can improve a person’s overall quality of life and not just their earning potential is “empty calorie” knowledge to me.
Unfortunately, this unilaterally awful adult advice often creates young South Korean teenagers that are mentally broken, depressed, highly anxious and suicidal. Sina Kim, a recent university graduate, explained,
“Most teachers emphasize that if we failed Suneung [The College Scholastic Ability Test], the rest of our lives would be failure, because the test is the first (and last) step to our successful lives…[The Suneung] is the final goal and final determinant of our lives. We thought that if we successfully finish the test, then the bright future would automatically follow.”
Such an unhealthy and false narrative, so widely accepted by students worldwide, has all the makings of a religious cult-like belief system. Se-Woong Koo, a hagwon employee, revealed the psychological cost of the academic hagwon experience to The New York Times:
“Hagwons are soulless facilities, with room after room divided by thin walls, lit by long fluorescent bulbs, and stuffed with students memorizing English vocabulary, Korean grammar rules and math formulas.” (Source: Diamond, Anna. “South Korea’s Testing Fixation.” The Atlantic. 17 November 2016. Accessed 20 February 2017, www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/11/south-korean-seniors-have-been-preparing-for-today-since-kindergarten/508031/). To add insult to mental injury, multiple academic studies have concluded that endless hours of engagement in repetitive rote-memorization exercises and drills designed to yield high exam scores, so common in classrooms all around the world, provide little to no increase in intellect.
Most tragic of all, however, is the systemic negative impact of academic achievement upon the state of happiness among South Korean children. The irony of this situation is that if academic classrooms truly provided life-enhancing education and increased intellect, then parents that heaped mountains of unreasonable academic pressure upon their children would have been intelligent enough to understand that rote memorization drills have zero correlation to intellect. And consequently, they would have subsequently advised their children to pursue real education over high academic achievement in order to steer their children towards a life of deep meaning and purpose over a high-calorie, zero-nutrition curriculum only designed to yield success in the relentless goal of maximining earning potential. Even when the South Korean government discovered “that South Korean children were the least happy among those of 30 countries studied, most of them in the OECD, with the Health Ministry citing ‘academic stress’ as ‘the most relevant factor’”, the Korean education minister and government completely ignored these studies, and to this day, they remain silent about the need to correct this nationwide disastrous mental health problem. (Park, Ju-min. “South Korean Children Finish Last in Happiness Survey.” Reuters. 4 November 2014. Accessed 20 February 2017, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-southkorea-children-idUSKBN0IO0OA20141104).
Only monetary stresses have compelled some South Korean government leaders to openly question whether the nation’s obsession with academic achievement placed too much undue stress on a typical family’s living expenses, with many families spending up to 20% of their disposable income on the academic pursuits of their high-school aged students in deference to even buying nutritious food for their children. Even with such obvious child neglect/abuse exercised by many parents, the South Korean government has refused to overhaul a national academic system that doesn’t even stress real education. (Source: Ripley, Amanda. “Teacher. Leave Those Kids Alone”. Seoul Sunday. 25 September 2011. Accessed 20 February 2017. https://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2094427,00.html). Such outcomes do not surprise me, as the history of national academic systems reveals that governments have always used institutional academics to produce the greatest possible numbers of compliant and obedient citizens. This real problem does not exist just in South Korea, but it exists in every nation in the world.
In 2016, South Korea had the highest rates of suicide in the industrialized world for 9-consecutive years for children and young adults in South Korea between the ages of 10 and 30. In fact, horrifically, suicide according to a 2016 Al Jazeera study, was the number one cause of death for this age group in Korea, with “the stress of living in a hyper-competitive society or pressure over exam results and college entrance” cited as the reason. My goal, in spending 15 years of my life developing the skwealthacademy curriculum was to not only squash society’s conflation of academics, but also to squash society’s narrow, mentally-unhealthy definition of income as the only measure of success.
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