How The Future Of Education Blurs Professional Lines


So this is a rant about some of the things that are broken in our education system, and how we’re fast getting past them. And I’m not just talking about my little corner of the world here in St. Maarten/St. Martin either.

This is the age of the global village is it not?

Bits and pieces of a future book started spewing out and woke me up one night. I was struggling with a blog post about healthcare professionals. Everything in this world is so utterly connected. In rare sober moments you’re sometimes lucky to glimpse obscure ones in new light. It’s in those moments you may be on the cusp of the closest thing to a new idea.

I had to jump out of bed to jot it down. That’s how this stream of consciousness started.

Is traditional education declining?

The American university system has lost its value proposition in face of the speed and intensity of the current business marketplace

Gary Vaynerchuck

I know that’s coming from a guy who was a D student, and by his own admission, that’s part of the reason why he doesn’t “value the current education system.” But Gary is hardly the only person who holds this opinion. Like him, Seth Godin also believes that you can’t bypass a college education for a great many professions (like medicine) where it is an entry-level requirement. But in the marketplace he also says it’s a whole other story. Certain college courses might actually be a handicap.

In fact, there are many educational leaders holding the same opinion. Some are blazing the trail trying to get their contemporaries to shift. There is a good reason why these education leaders are pressing the panic button. Grands like Udemy, Lynda dotcom and a host of others are almost nonchalant in their march to dominance.

Many online marketers are launching new courses every single day. Some of these, admittedly are shabbier than the worst that universities are offering. But there’s no denying that the quality and preponderance of online courses and “academies” offered by a growing army of marketers.  There are “graduates” from some of these courses that have used the training to begin driving 6 and 7-figure incomes already.  That’s a clear sign it’s a growing industry that will reach a critical mass at some point.

You’ll know when kids coming out of high school are considering their options and one or more of those courses become a part of the conversation. But I suspect that is happening already, and long before high school graduation too.

Multiple modes of intelligence

Truth is, most post-secondary education cater to high school students with what Howard Gardner calls verbal-linguistic, and logical-mathematical intelligence. That’t two out of eight.

Our entire educational systems give unfair advantage to kids with higher IQ’s. IQ tests are notorious for missing the other modes of intelligence. Besides, folks like Daniel Goleman keep telling us EQ is way more important. And it’s true, but I suspect EQ is still just another of maybe 7 or so other components.  No one can tell me Gabby Douglas’s raw talent at age 6 didn’t made it easier for her to fall so totally in love with gymnastics. If it was lurking in the shadows, low EQ couldn’t stand much of a chance.

We need to stop thinking we know everything necessary to tell who can succeed at what. We also need to take a closer look at the arbitrary methods we  use to track children who don’t fit into these WASP boxes that are getting smaller so fast no one will fit in them by 2025.

What technology is making possible

I want to see Tim Ferris and his friend, Josh Waitzkin sit in the same room with Dr Daniel Stickler, Dr. Mickra Hamilton and his folks from the Apeiron Center, Richard Boyatzis, and IBM’s best coders. They’re going to brainstorm the development of software with algorithms complex enough to spit out amazingly accurate “gene profile prescriptions.” These prescriptions will showcase best parenting styles, exercise routines, and diet choices optimal for the life-span of individual children.

Or (yes.. oh YES!) how about data showing the ultimate vocation or profession for each kid’s genetic makeup? And can we have it before they’re even 6 years old?

Course we can.  How about some educational practices that are tailor-made for every single child? All this is possible, and I want it done cheaply enough for parents of the village girls in Nairobi to get theirs just as easily as a silicon valley billionaire.

I want to see Robert Duff, Ph.D and a whole slew of others like him, offer online courses. I want those courses to deconstruct their disciplines and put them online in language a 14-year old kid with an average IQ can understand. Robert has done that with bits and pieces of Psychology 101. I hope he continues. It’s only a matter of time before we see their students wildly ecstatic about how they’re applying their education in business, relationships and their own personal growth in real time as they learn.

And if someone doesn’t do it first, I’m going to make Jurgen Habermas and his theory of communicative action just as accessible. Then The Donalds of this world would be valued for their capacity to entertain. When your mind is trained to see all five sides of an issue, you develop a heightened sense of humor. Listening to someone who’s totally oblivious of the other points of view shouldn’t make anyone mad. Unless its from children (when it’s just cute) it comes over as hilariously funny.

But I digress. Even if someone else does it first, there’s the rest of all of Sociology–a discipline that I think belongs right up there with Psychology in it’s potential for utility in a post-modern world, and therefore in prestige as well. It’s a great pity its early theorists hid its usefulness behind exasperating jargon.

There’s something to be said for utilizing these bodies of knowledge at the same time they’e being learned. Waiting for certification defeats some of the purpose of a higher education. A lesson is fully learned from application of knowledge in the real world.

Possibilities are growing exponentially though. In fact, unlike any other time in history, they now outpace the human race’s capacity to explore them all. It’s not such a crowded world out there in the information age. Many paths are left wide open for researchers to investigate, educators to illuminate, and entrepreneurs to deliver the rest of humanity. All the other occupations will likely fit nicely into those three big buckets.

Don’t know what those guys I mentioned will do. I’m jumping in with both feet in my little corner of the world. How about you?

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