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Ideas are the Only Currency in the New Economy

The Future of Education

March 31st, 2010 · 8 Comments · Ideas

Has our current educational system outlived its usefulness?

Seth Godin explains that our current educational system was established to produce factory workers in the following video.

Ken Robinson feels that schools are killing creativity.

Indeed, it is difficult to find many people with anything good to say about our current educational system. Traditional schools are not able to keep up with changing demands and technological advancements. How can universities possibly deliver graduates with in-demand skills when the world is changing so fast?

Generation Y entrepreneurs are questioning the importance of university when they can forgo an education and just go out and build a company or change the world. Founders at companies like Google, Apple, Microsoft and Virgin have proven that advanced education is not a prerequisite for business success

Here are some interesting models for the future of education.

University of the People
The United Nations sponsored University of the People is the

world’s first tuition free online academic institution dedicated to the global advancement and democratization of higher education.

Knowledge Nomads
Netherlands based, Knowmads has a small group of students that work on real projects with various businesses and experts.

Our purpose is to create a life-long learning community that starts with a one –year-program and the possibility to add on half a year after that. We work from the principle of a team setting based on Action Learning; meaning we we work with our heads, hearts and hands. First we discover what is going on around us, then we design, then we start to build and then we amplify it in a learning setting and as a socio-economic venture. You will experience this setting with 29 other people, 3 members of staff as well as as experts invited from business, politics and media, from all over the world.

Alternative MBA
Marketing super-guru, Seth Godin offered a one-time Alternative MBA consisting of:

One hour a day of class/dialogue
Four hours a day of working on my projects
Three hours a day of working on your personal project
Five hours a day of living, noticing, doing and connecting

Personal MBA
Josh Kaufman’s Personal MBA starts with the premise that you don’t need to go to school to get an education.

The PMBA is more flexible than a traditional MBA program, doesn’t involve going into massive debt, and won’t interrupt your income stream for two years. Just pick up one of the best business books available, learn as much as you can, discuss what you learn with others, then go out into the real world and make great things happen.

Would you benefit more from spending two or more years of your life and a lot of money in a classroom with professors with limited industry experience or from working on real projects with real people and companies? Education is not about school anymore.

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Comment by Eaten by Tigers
2010-04-01 15:37:08

the education system works quite well at creating cubicle drones, button pushers, and a population strangled by debt (gotta work hard at Mr Cluck’s to pay off that degree i got).

great collection of videos and alternative options but most of all, great way to people thinking.
.-= Eaten by Tigers´s last blog ..7 ways to reclaim your inherent power =-.

Comment by John
2010-04-03 21:21:58

Thanks for the comment.

One thing I wonder about is whether the state of our education is because of the institutions themselves or is it just because we as consumers do not demand anything more.

The average American watches 28 hours of TV per week. They are not forced to be couch potatoes. Perhaps, the current state of education is the way it is because societies demand so little of themselves?

I had a recent comment that said ‘the American dream is to watch TV 28 hours per week.’ Maybe that is correct?

Comment by Eaten by Tigers
2010-04-06 20:05:01

well, in western society people have a fear of being cut off from the group. considering that the US is one of the most associated countries in the world (folks belonging to clubs, associations, etc) this is easy to believe. social media, anyone? we like feeling connected with other people and TV is an extension of that.

now, our consumerist economy takes advantage of this fact. take the iPad, a device designed purely to consume information and not create it. see, there’s no money in helping people be creators.

this also ties into our education system which is consumption driven. memorize these facts then spit them back out verbatim and you get an A.

everything is based on encouraging and helping people to consume. as mentioned in one of the videos, creation is not nurtured. “you want to do art/dance/music? stupid! there’s no money in that!”

so, the issue goes deeper than the education system or people’s lack of desire. it’s a cultural one. and until we shift the paradigm… we got problems.
.-= Eaten by Tigers´s last blog 11-tier waterfall, ants, jungle cats, and bizarre vegetation =-.

Comment by John
2010-04-06 20:44:14

Thanks for continuing the dialogue! Most appreciated.

Okay, but much of the debate tends to center around what our institutions and governments are doing poorly. My contention is that we as citizens are responsible for shaping our institutions and we largely fail in that regard. Change happens but it takes decades because of sloth and apathy.

How do we make large scale cultural changes? Do we need government or can it be more grassroots?

I agree that our ‘education system is consumption’ driven but I also feel that technology is turning us all into creators. Blogging is probably the best example but it is also happening with music, design, entrepreneurship, even manufacturing with inexpensive outsourcing. We are all producers or at least prosumers in some way.

So my final question is,
Do we need cultural changes to make us creators, or does the fact that we are becoming creators change culture?

(Comments wont nest below this level)
Comment by Eaten by Tigers
2010-04-06 23:15:35

100% agree that we the people are responsible. so, asking me whether we need gov’t to create cultural change… my answer is that there is nothing gov’t can do better than people on a local level. real, lasting change can only occur at that level – anything else is dictatorial.

i do disagree that technology is turning us into creators. pencil and paper have been around for ages, that hasn’t made us a culture of artists and writers. technology definitely makes things easier on a number of levels but i’m not sure it’s effectively converting spectators/consumers into creators.

as to your final question…. ummm, yes 🙂 culture and creation are so tightly wound that it could be said they’re the same thing.

y’know, i’ve had this idea for a blog post bouncing in my head for a bit now… with so much promotion of location independence and travel to foreign places there’s something that’s missing in a large number of those conversations. and that is “bringing it all back home to the community.” folks go abroad, learn and grow, but there needs to come a time when people bring those experiences home and share them so that, at least on a local level, there is growth on a community level. that right there is one way to initiate cultural growth and change… and how we take personal responsibility for the direction of our culture.
.-= Eaten by Tigers´s last blog 11-tier waterfall, ants, jungle cats, and bizarre vegetation =-.

Comment by John
2010-04-07 20:29:51

Thanks Mark,

I think if we look at the aggregate, most people are still in a trance in front of their TVs with their brains turned off. In that sense, as a whole, we are not creators.

However, I believe the percentage of the population that is actively engaged in some type of creation is increasing because the costs of entry into everything are cheaper then ever.

We are are ‘creators’ on our blogs because the tools are essentially free. I can publish animations because software makes it easy and fast. I can record reasonably polished songs on GarageBand with little experience. Ten years ago all of my ‘hobbies’ would have been difficult and expensive. 20 years ago they would have been impossible.

Look at all the pictures on Flickr, videos on YouTube, posts on the millions of blogs around the world, the rise of freelancing and outsourcing; anyone online is a creator in some way or another.

Umair Hague has a short post on the rise of the prosumer here:

I agree that more work needs to be done in our own communities. Many of us are interested in living and travel abroad but back home we often are shuttered up in our homes with little real connections to people. Community is definitely lacking in most urban centers. We are building bigger houses and higher fences instead of getting involved with our neighbors.

I think that is a big reason travel is so life changing. When we are abroad we don’t have our personal fortresses to hide behind. Travellers are forced to get out and intermingle with society.

What is interesting for me is that we all love the people aspect of travelling but we tend to avoid it at home.

That is a big reason my wife and I have given up our house, car, business and possessions. It is hard to not have a home base but it is also much more exciting and interesting.

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