This would be funny if it was not really happening.
The responsibility for knowledge and know-how is being placed on the learner and not necessarily on the company anymore. I believe there are some huge implications to this trend:
- The gap between the people who have the ability to be lifelong learners, and those who cannot get out of the more formal feed-me learning mode, will grow wider. Income will follow the ones who can learn on their own not the ones who have the most degrees or letters after their name.
- Providing certificates for people who are learning all the time through the programs they take, from self-paced to webinars, virtual classes to conferences, will be a necessity in a world in which people want to prove what they learned. “Those outside of companies with skill-building curriculae can’t obtain legitimacy in those skillsets without being an employee. The more people are culling unassociated resources and experiences to learn specific skills, the more urgent it is for there to be a place for them to record their efforts and success, to study with peers, and to present their learning portfolios to future employers or partners in a meaningful way.” Fast Company
- Independent learning is dependent on technology for reach and currency. Countries with the best, fastest most up-to-date online learning technologies will become the leaders in this hyper-competitive marketplace.
- The formal school system is a disaster of epic proportions. If you disagree spend some time looking up the statistics on things like
- drop-out rates from 2000 until today
- average reading levels at graduation for those who get through the system
- illiteracy rates from 1900 until today
- comparisons of math and science test scores with other countries.
When you cross-reference these system failures with other countries you discover a startling fact. The countries that are ahead of us are the ones with the best on-your-own education systems. It’s not the formal school system that is giving them the lead but the system that enables their citizens to learn and continue learning on their own.
- Teaching-to-the-test is a dumb idea. It does not produce people who can master learning on-your-own. Instead the outcome is a person who can memorize and forget and not really learn anything except how to take a test and move from one grade to another. The teaching-to-the-test approach does no one any favors. At best, it is a band-aid on a broken system. At worst, it is responsible for the dumbing-down of America.
- The current educational model is ancient. Based on the Industrial Age necessity of churning out good soldiers (literally where it started) it was never designed to produce independent critical learners who were capable of learning on their own or with one another.
- Teaching people to learn is far more important than teaching them a subject. Mastery never came out of a class anyway, and blended learning that married informal and formal modes of learning always trumped formal-only learning.
- Khan Academy is one of the more brilliant uses of learning technology that seamlessly blends learning on-your-own with being helped to master a concept with a mentor or facilitator. The flipping of the schoolwork and homework into a more effective model of learning is a revolution in education. It can be used from Pre-K to Lifelong learning.
So the upshot is pretty simple. We need to revamp the educational system to produce great learners. It’s totally possible for several compelling reasons:
- People are born, to one degree or another, with the innate capability to be brilliant learners. Study infants in their first 5 years as they master walking, running, eating, talking, and so much more. Thank goodness school does not start during this period of exploration, discovery, trying, failing and succeeding. It’s only when we place them into the formal school system that they learn to be stupid.
- There already are great new approaches that are succeeding. I mentioned Khan Academy. There are others. So there is no longer any excuse for not replacing the outdated failed dysfunctional model of education with a new, better, brighter and more functional model of learning.
No reason that is except for a mountain of resistance: entrenched stakeholders in the old system; the politics of hold-the-line; stubborn inertia; “teachers” unions; teachers themselves; bureaucrats and their selfish bureaucracies; Boreds of Education; lots of people who hold the old dear and the fear the new; well-intentioned people without a desire to really see the system change … and more.
But despair not, change will come to the educational system, it will just take time. Planks Principle about the way science changes is worth repeating here. In his autobiography, Planck remarks that a “new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”
It’s no wonder that a visionary like Sal Kahn literally started his brilliant game-changing program in a closet …