In most learning environments, students listen to a teacher or read an assignment, followed by an assessment. If the students answer the questions correctly, it is taken as proof that learning has happened. You could then infer that supposedly, all we need to do is to repeat the process over and over until all students have encyclopedic knowledge.
But is this true?
It is no surprise that we forget most of the stuff we "learn" in school. I happens. If you've ever helped a 6th-grader with homework you know. We forget.
So what does a school diploma stand for? It does not mean that you now have a particular depth of knowledge, but it represents that you were at one time able to give correct answers on tests.
So let's come clean. We don't remember all that much from our school years. I'm glad we can read and write, but it's beyond me why we spend so much time and money pretending that students really know all the stuff they “learned.” The idea that the purpose of schools is for gaining encyclopedic knowledge is flawed. I see the process of lecture-test-forget to be futile.
Does this mean that school is a waste of time? Well, it is for many students, but it doesn't have to be. In my opinion, the purpose of schools should be three-fold:
1) To increase brain power.
2) To create adults who know how to and like to learn.
3) To give the students exposure to a wide variety of learning opportunities, allowing them to find and increase their strengths.
The result would be unique and intelligent people who can learn with or without classrooms. Whether or not they pass tests along the way is irrelevant.