There’s something happening in the education sector. We’re about to redefine what it means to be ‘educated’. There’s a number of signs that change is coming.
- The public reaction to ‘Waiting for Superman’ reminds me of the reaction to ‘An Inconvenient Truth’. It’s the kind of movie that evokes a ‘let’s storm the gates’ response in nearly everyone who sees it.
- Mark Zuckerberg’s donation of $100MM to the Newark school system. I think the increasing focus on education reform will result in more philanthropic funds being diverted to this issue. Donation’s like Zuckerberg’s will only speed this process.
- Rupert Murdoch’s entry into ‘the education marketplace’, highlighted by his hiring of former New York city schools chancellor Joel Klein. If Murdoch makes substantial investments in this space, I expect others will follow.
- The looming student loans crisis. Mike Karnjanaprakorn wrote about the looming student loans crisis in his article College Inc. Americans now owe more on their student loans ($830B) than their credit cards ($827B) and default rates for federally guaranteed student loans are rising.
- The increasing questioning of the notion that a college degree equals success. Mike examined this in his post College is Overrated**. Today, 17MM Americans with college degrees are doing jobs that require less skill than those associated with a bachelor’s degree (like being a waiter, parking lot attendant, or janitor).
- The gap between people’s educational credentials and actual competence. Most significantly, this is playing out in the US where there’s evidence to show that the slow economic recovery is due in part to skills shortages resulting from the manufacturing workforce being ill-equipped to take up roles in the new digital economy.
My views on the value of education are coloured by my own experiences. While at University, when people would ask why I was studying Law, my standard response was that it was the best use of my time while I figured out what I really wanted to do.
On this point I was wrong and as a result, I spent the best of my learning years (19-24) as a below-average Law student, ignoring my passions and natural aptitudes on the basis that smart people did Law and therefore so should I.
In time, I have become a strong believer in the Steve Jobs school of thought – follow your passion, don’t settle and remember that every day may be your last (so don’t spend too long doing things you don’t enjoy).
People are more effective doing what they love. I think the opportunities arising as a result of the changes in the digital world will allow more people to do what they love and get paid for it. I think the coming change is long overdue and I’m excited to be part of the generation who’ll lead it.