There is no one path to life and education
At one point, career and education were linear and deterministic. You selected your career, went to a university, and then started your career. In some fields, that paradigm still exists, such as medicine. However, in nearly every other field, the path has become nonlinear and indeterministic.
I don’t think this fact is controversial:
- More developers are self-taught
- Google’s studies found college success isn’t a predictor of job performance
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics studied one cohort and found people held about 11 jobs over their career
- Based on one estimate, 65% of kids will be in jobs that don’t exist today
However, the implications are still being worked out. If knowledge and skills are necessary for jobs and jobs continue to evolve, our knowledge and skill development will have to continue to evolve. If our knowledge and skill development continues through our life, then education must persist through our career and not just at a point in time. If education in continuous, then we need a model of education that embeds it in our daily lives. Since the current model of education is designed in a linear fashion, we need a new model of education.
Corporations have already reached this conclusion:
- Deloitte saw a need for continuous learning and new forms of learning, so they spent $300M to build their own Deloitte University
- Accenture reinvented its approach to learning and sees learning as critical to its success so it invested $840M in learning in 2015
- GE has long had its own corporate university to teach its people on its methods and management principles
- McKinsey started its own McKinsey Academy in 2013 to provide clients leading business management education
- Technology companies have created multi-million dollar technical training businesses, e.g. Cisco Networking Academy, Microsoft Virtual Academy, AWS Cloud Academy, Intel Nervana Academy.
In the knowledge economy, learning is central. However, I think we are still iterating on the right model of education. The first university was founded ~1,300 years after the famous Platonic Academy and in the 18th century, the Germans developed the idea of the modern research university. So, we still have time. Our current model of education was sufficient for a time, but now needs rethinking.
I am excited about how Coursera, Udacity, and EdX have started to experiment with new forms of education. Learning can occur regardless of age, time, and location. Anyone can learn new technical skills from innovative companies, develop their intellect from leading liberal arts professors, or expand their mind by learning about another culture from an instructor in another country.
We must shed this paradigm of a linear, deterministic education and life. We must embrace a continuously evolution of education and life. This affects how we think about the value and mode of education as well as our habits as learners. I think we’re still just at the beginning of this reframing and reinvention, and I’m excited to see where we go from here.