The Future of Education and Art

Sebastián Ramírez
12 min readAug 17, 2022

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The current traditional education system is somewhat broken.

The jobs and requirements based on this system are also somewhat broken. Even more when combined with other arbitrary rules like fixed years of experience.

Our societies are at risk. If we don’t change those things, if we don’t do it fast enough, an increasing wave of poverty with more power and economic imbalances could come and do a lot of damage.

We can fix it.

And the future of education and art go together, at least I think they should.

I normally don’t think that whatever I have to say could be important. But people keep asking me for my opinions on random things and making me feel like my ideas are sometimes useful.

This is one of those opinions I have, normally not so public, and probably controversial. But maybe others could find it useful too, so I’m writing this.

This is just my point of view. It doesn’t represent anyone. And I can also change, adjust, and clarify my own point of view later. But maybe some of these ideas can be useful to others.

The Traditional Education System

The traditional education system seems designed to train people to adapt and work in the industrial revolution, in factories and such. That was a long time ago. Go early, dress the same, sit at a table, have a supervisor (teacher) in front of many people, do the same things as others do, etc.

People are given lots and lots of information, in most cases, without much purpose. I think most things learned and taught should have some purpose, otherwise, it’s very difficult to learn them, and even more to apply that knowledge. But anyway, that could be a longer post.

Good institutions normally can afford very good teachers.

But these institutions and those teachers are located at a specific point on earth.

Only the people around that point or the ones that can afford to go there can apply to study there. And not many are received because the space, teachers, and resources are limited.

This ends up being some intrinsic gatekeeping. It’s unavoidable, you just can’t fit more people in that room of the building.

But it’s not because the knowledge, the teacher’s style, or resources should be limited to some people. It’s just because the structure doesn’t allow more people to access it.

And then, in that same structure, the teacher has to teach the same class year after year. Even if it’s the same information, even if nothing new is added or changed, there’s a lot of repetition there.

Many institutions around the world teach the same concepts and ideas. But they end up coming up with different ways to do it. Some can afford to make better materials, methods, or ways of teaching, but that’s kept for only that institution. Other institutions keep teaching with the same old resources as before, even if that was improved somewhere else.

And in some cases, well regarded institutions teach old or somewhat obsolete concepts, or even privative tools that students will never be able to use again (e.g. a programming language), maybe just because the institution had a partnership with the provider of that tool. And when they go out and start working, they end up having to use a completely different tool, and learn it on the job either way.

But still, people end up wanting to move to some city to be able to attend some school, but the information or learnings are not necessarily tied to that particular place, it’s just a coincidence.

Of course, some professions need hands-on physical experience, like doctors. But many professions are not tightly coupled to space, even more in technology and digital professions.

Education Systems Change Lives

I’m not against education, and I know from very close people that these same education systems can and do change lives.

When people have the choice of studying there or nothing, the difference of education is massive.

And many have the fortune of having amazing teachers that guide them and help them a lot. But that’s not always the case.

And in some cases, some teachers that want and try to be better, to give practical materials and learnings, are stopped by the mechanics of what is expected in the system, maybe even just because it’s easier for the administration to keep things unchanged.

And also, some education institutions are doing a big job to evolve and adapt to these new changes, which is amazing.

I’m not against any of that. I only think education systems need to evolve faster, we need to evolve faster, and find ways to teach faster, better, in more accessible ways, more dynamically. Because technology and advancements are not gonna wait for us.

Technology and Job Displacement

Technology has displaced jobs for a long time. Old jobs disappear, slowly or quickly, and new jobs appear. Old jobs are replaced by new ones.

The education systems have to (at least should) adapt to this and teach the new jobs and skills.

But technology moves fast, and maybe gets faster every time. And the speed at which technology can alter jobs is higher than the speed at which traditional education systems evolve.

Traditional education systems tend to expect very long periods dedicated only to absorbing new knowledge, in many cases without much purpose or practice, and then they expect that the next periods will be dedicated to applying that information, without acquiring new information.

But jobs related to or altered by technology make that idea of one long period studying and one long period applying less practical.

Technology changes fast. If you start studying something expecting it to take as long as traditional education systems would, by the time you finish, there might be some better alternative. But if you expect not to study again, you will not learn that new better alternative.

I think it would make more sense to start studying and start applying as soon as possible. And continue studying and applying forever.

Arguments against technology (e.g. against artificial intelligence) tend to include job displacement. Because for people that have been doing the same thing for a long time and don’t have a way to change, update, and adapt, getting their job displaced would be very, very bad.

It’s common to hear “artificial intelligence will replace us” and alarming things like that. But it’s not a new problem, artificial intelligence is just technology, and technology has been changing jobs forever.

Technology, artificial intelligence, automation, are all just tools.

It’s like a knife. The first knife used to cut meat was probably very useful, it was probably a great invention, and it surely helped people a lot then. But then a knife could also be used to kill someone. That doesn’t necessarily make the knife itself a bad thing that should be avoided, but people should be taught to use it so that more people use it to improve lives than to damage them.

With technology we could have the power to reduce the need for many hazardous jobs, repetitive and sometimes numbing jobs, increase efficiency for everyone. We could have the power to increase the food production, reduce waste, reduce energy consumption. We could solve a lot of the problems in our society and our planet.

But then, we come again to the current traditional education systems. If people can’t access the information easily, if it’s not made to be easy to understand and apply, if it doesn’t have a clear purpose, then we don’t have a way to help people overcome the challenges from fast-moving technology, to get new jobs, to take advantage of those improvements in technology.

And powers or billionaires with more control of technology would just get more power, money and control of technology, while the rest gets less, and the imbalance would just get worse.

It could go really bad, or we could make it go well for everyone.

Job Requirements

The next problem is the traditional system of how to hire people.

The process of hiring people tends to be based on very old practices and assumptions that look more and more absurd every day.

If a job requires someone to have a specific degree from the traditional education system, that is gatekeeping and discarding anyone that could have learned the same things or more with alternative methods (it would certainly discard me, I was homeschooled all my life 😅).

And knowing that traditional education systems are not being able to evolve and adapt as fast as technology, why require someone to have a specific degree when that is not really what they are gonna need in the job that is evolving at the pace of technology?

A possible answer is that “they will have the foundational concepts of some topic”. But then, the requirement tends to be “a degree on X”. But they never examine the topics taught in that “X” career at that particular institution to see if the person knows what is needed. So, why such a strong emphasis in a particular degree when there’s really no emphasis in the actual knowledge or skills?

Years of Experience

The same goes for years of experience. It’s just a proxy indicator for the skill level, but it’s quite a bad proxy.

One person could have 5 or 10 years working with the same technology, doing the same thing day after day. They are not learning something new. And the skills they can get in all that time are not that much.

And another person could work at a startup where they have to learn new skills very fast, take new challenges, even lead colleagues, and acquire the equivalent of “10 years of experience” in 2 years.

Companies and job requirements have to be updated as well, to check for actual skills, or at least better indicators of those skills, but less focus on particular degrees and years of experience.


Of course, governments could be greatly improved as well. They tend to be the slowest of them all. And many things in governments are still very tightly coupled to traditional and old structures, like traditional education system degrees.

But they are probably the most difficult to change, and they will slowly evolve and will have to adapt by force at some point.

That’s a much harder battle, we can focus on the things we can have an impact on right now, because we need changes to start right now.

New Education Systems

Coming back to education systems, there are new ones. I’m not inventing anything new here.

The internet with articles, documentation, videos, massive online courses (in many cases free), provide a way for people around the world to access the same content.

Grading can be done by software online. It’s not great, but it’s not much worse than tests in traditional education systems, and can be scaled much better. The topic of how to test knowledge and the emphasis on those standard educational tests can also be greatly improved, but that’s also another longer post.

Having these resources available online helps a lot with the limit and gatekeeping of physical locations on the planet. It also helps with the problem of the limited seats in a given room in a building, the internet doesn’t have limited seats.

Even if the classes are done by the same teachers in person, accessing and using the best materials available online can help a lot.

But one of the best parts of all this is that the best teachers in the world can give their best classes once, record them, and everyone else could access them. No need for the teachers to work a lot more, at least it’s not proportional to the people that can access the information.

And the content can be improved and refined by them or even others through time. And the best ways to teach something can emerge and improve. So that people can learn things easily and fast, with less effort every time, so more people can learn those things instead of having knowledge reserved only for the most brilliant ones that were able to disentangle a concept from a dry explanation.

Someone that I admire highly seems to have realized all this, several years ago. Andrew Ng was pioneering work on artificial intelligence, he probably realized all the job displacement it could produce, and that the next problem to solve for society would be education and access to it. And he went and founded Coursera, an online education platform. I think something similar happened with Sebastian Thrun and Udacity. And probably the same with edX and others too.

How New Education Systems Affected Me

I’m from Colombia, in Latin America, I was homeschooled all my life, I didn’t go to the university (actually, not even to elementary school).

But I had access (sometimes) to the internet. I was able to download pages to read them offline and learn about web technologies and Wikipedia articles.

And then when these online course platforms appeared (and I had stable internet), I was able to take the same classes from well regarded institutions that people in those places could, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to.

Here’s an interesting detail. I’m not against education institutions, not even traditional ones. The courses I studied were mostly from those same institutions. I’m against the system that enforces limiting information to only a few people based on arbitrary coincidences (location) and rules, and implicitly gatekeeping that knowledge, when making it more accessible doesn’t cost more and can help much more people.

In those courses, I was taught very complex concepts in ways that seemed easy to understand, at times, I even felt smart. I studied the same concepts in different courses, through time, I also saw other people studying and struggling with the same concepts. And that let me see that some ways of teaching something were better than others.

In some cases the same concept could look much more complex than when it was explained differently. The way something is explained makes a huge difference. It makes a difference in the effort needed to learn, the speed at which something can be learned, the ability to apply the concept afterwards, etc.

Art for Education

At this point is where art comes in.

A possible definition of art would be the use of aesthetics and imagination to communicate something.

It doesn’t have to be jolly, you could have a very sad and powerful piece of art, a song, a painting. But it uses aesthetics, sensation, imagination, to communicate that sadness, in a powerful way.

And education could be thought of as the communication of useful information that can be applied.

Now, art would be one of the most powerful ways to communicate in general (if not just the most). And education is also just about communicating things well.

I think art could and should be used for education, to teach things.

How many things are taught to kids via songs? Have you heard the saying that “an image is worth a thousand words”?

Art can accelerate the process of learning, teaching, and education in general.

And now that each piece of content, each resource that is made, can be available online to millions of people around the world, making art to explain a concept is worth it.

Before, making a piece of art, only for one class, given to a handful of people, might not have been worth the effort, time, money. But if you can teach millions, then all that investment is paid through time and people learning.

There’s also the strange coincidence that artists tend to have a difficult life, it’s not easy to succeed, at least economically, via arts. It tends to work for only a handful that takes all the fame and money, but it doesn’t work well for the great majority.

But if art is not dedicated only to entertainment, but also to education, there are a lot of artists that can help, that resource is already there, and doing that would of course help them. Some hundreds or thousands of dollars for some work that can then be replicated for a long time with many people can be very fruitful for the thing that is being taught.

I imagine courses (mostly online, because those are the ones I’ve taken the most), where from time to time, they hire a new illustrator, or 3D artist, that makes a new animation that explains the concept that otherwise you would have to just imagine. Or musicians making short songs to teach ideas or things that need to be memorized, etc.

As part of that, there are also many things that improve how something is taught that I would consider art, or somewhat art at least. Like cues that bring the attention to some content (e.g. some piece of code), diagrams, tools to show and order the information in a beautiful way, etc. Making sure that something is amenable, that it’s easy to communicate, is what ensures that it will have the intended effect, that it will be useful.

A Small Example Using Art for Education

I have been playing with this idea for a while. Some years ago I took an online course on edX from Berkeley about artificial intelligence. It was full of illustrations, and it was clear that the illustrator knew the concepts, because the illustrations were clear, easy to understand, and accurate. I didn’t even think the course was “easy”, but it was so enjoyable! And the concepts were much easier and fast to understand. I studied some of the same concepts in several other courses, and the difference between having clear illustrations and art and having only dense descriptions was really big.

I wanted to have illustrations for FastAPI too. So I recently hired Ketrina, the same illustrator from that edX course, and asked her to make some illustrations for the documentation explaining concurrency and parallelism in FastAPI.

I would hope that would help explain the concepts better and more easily.

I would hope others could also start using art to explain things better, more easily, and faster, and hopefully, making education more accessible to everyone.

About me

Hey! 👋 I’m Sebastián Ramírez (tiangolo).

You can follow me, contact me, see what I do, or use my open source code:



Sebastián Ramírez

Creator of FastAPI and Typer. Dev at Exposion AI. APIs, Deep Learning/Machine Learning, full-stack distributed systems, SQL/NoSQL, Python, Docker, JS, TS, etc.