The Great Tipping Point in Education? It’s Here.
And so it begins.
The pandemic’s impact on higher education demonstrates an educational system out of touch with the needs of a modern world.
A growing number of students and parents are voicing that if we move education from campuses to virtual settings, that a discount ought to come with it. This frustration is the tip of an iceberg reflective of growing anxiety with families and students on whether or not they are getting maximum value from their investment.
The academic world could be shielding itself from real change by hanging on to its elitism. Where is that taking us? This morning Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli are being sentenced for giving $500,000 in bribes to get their daughters into USC. Right after the scandal broke their daughter, Olivia Jade, famously went onto her YouTube Channel and posted videos with messages such as, “I don’t really care about school” and “I’m so excited. USC is a big party school.”
While Olivia Jade seems to have difficulty expressing gratitude for her parents, we find a growing number of bright young people that have no interest in going to a university. Others go but don’t show up for class. Why? They have learned how to hack their education online, finding what they need and move on. In the technology world, vastly improved filtering, will lead to customized educations. Academia has very good reasons to be afraid.
Our educational systems were designed to fit the needs of the Industrial Revolution. Now they prepare our kids for a world that no longer exists. In the architecture of learning, universities were the most elite destinations, reserved for those with money and high grades.
Today, many academic leaders shield their organizations from the need to reinvent the whole thing by clinging to elitism.
Here are just a few of the tidal waves they must deal with:
The rate of change has reached the point where active learning is becoming more important than degrees. Many employers will only consider candidates that are continuously learning. In fact, the more a candidate loves learning, the more valuable they become. Active learners stay on top of change. They bring in valuable information. They are the last people to get laid off.
Today, many degrees are obsolete on graduation day. Higher education needs to jettison all forms of elitism in order to have a future. Because, it is hard for any of us to change if we are better than everyone.
By the way, if one of us treats education as another chore, than perhaps its time to question our relationship towards work. We find that it is far easier to find the work that we love because we will then study what we love.
Active learning increases ones value, but in most modern forms, it is free.
Google has more information in its virtual walls than all of our country’s major universities combined. As technology makes huge improvements to filtering, more people will be able to learn exactly what they want and need in hours rather than years, all without charge.
Perhaps the most pressing problem of all with our entire educational system is that we are not teaching young people connectivity, that ability to connect quickly and fluidly with people that can help, inform, guide, and encourage us. We had jobs for life. Then, we had jobs for nine years. Now, the average college graduate will change careers four to six times.
The essential life skills of today are not new Some of the skills were dismissed as “soft skills.”
We call it connectivity.
When we launched Inspired Work in 1990, our participants transform their entire relationship towards work. In other words, they used their time with us to define what they wanted to do with their lives. The outcome wasn’t a half-assed vision. It was the mission, vision, and purpose that would most motivate them.
With that motivation, our participants learned the skills that would make their new vision as successful as possible.
Not the irritating sales skills of making a pitch and overcoming objections. The skills include being able to help someone effectively express their needs and expectations to the sales person.
When we know what is important to someone and we help them get that, we are influencing others. When we present a solution to a group of people, we learn what they want before the presentation.
Anyone who is able to make a decent presentation have raise their overall earning capacity by 60%. The National Speakers Association conducted a survey that indicated most people would prefer actual death to making a presentation. How do we overcome that? We teach them.
Building Support Systems
Many people don’t pursue their dreams because they believe the right people will not hep them. And yet, once we do define what we want, our success is almost purely based on getting the right people to help us.
Developing this skill is the single most important entry into today’s rapidly changing workplace.
The Perfect Storm
Our past presidents were quite comfortable telling us what to do.
We have replaced that model with focus-group politics that define what we want to hear and then make promises.
Before the pandemic, about about of our country’s workers characterized themselves as “underemployed.” These are the people holding three jobs to stay afloat, serving coffee with a doctoral degree in their back pocket, or those of us hiding onto obsolete and miserable jobs hoping the human resources death angel doesn’t turn the corner.
This is not a partisan issue, it is a leadership problem. Our dominant political parties might have different tones but none of them are lead America’s workers to change, to relearn and unlearn. The strangeness of this deficit is the work that is emerging as task work dies, is more meaningful, exciting, and connected to the world around us.
Germany, Japan, New Zealand, China, and Canada have implemented extensive and successful strategies to keep their workers ahead of change. They are pushing towards the future while we argue about the past.
If education was meeting the needs of the day, would we be debating our son’s and daughter’s health?
To me, bringing our young people back to school was a move of desperation for our universities to try to go back to “normal,” even if that includes partying so hard that other people have to tell us what happened.
A New Mindset
If I kids in or getting ready to go to school, I would demand new mindset that could restore integrity to our schools.
Don’t prepare our children for work that might not exist. Give our young people the tools and education that leads to a new form of confidence:
The awareness they can deal with anything the world can dish out to them.
How about making that the purpose of education?
I am daring the chancellors, presidents and principals of our schools to step forward and announce they are building a platform that gives us the tools to do work that makes this world better, that engages us, and the meets the needs of a vastly different landscape.
Here in Los Angeles, Rick Caruso, our regions most successful real estate developer, has served as the Chair of USC for years.
Because if our hallowed universities don’t wake up, many of our campuses will be turning into unexpectedly pleasant urban hosing sites.
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