Education Suffers from Yellow Checker Syndrome
James Altucher is a “digital mentor” of mine. He even answers some of my texts. If you know anything about him, he does not believe in college.
I agree that higher education in its present form is as obsolete as the taxi industry — over-regulated, disincentivized, etc.
But — pardon the pun — let’s ride this taxi analogy. Uber upended this cab system. Did the practice of getting a ride from someone change? Not really — instead, the delivery of this service changed.
Higher education can learn from this. It can choose to pretend like it’s the only way to receive an education — I call this “yellow checker syndrome” — or it can adapt its delivery to stay relevant.
A student-teacher relationship is essential, regardless of what platform this occurs on. Higher education holds the torch here.
What higher education needs to work on, though, is how they teach.
As Seth Godin says, the current higher education system was put forth to show people how to follow the rules of large industrial organizations. As the division of labor expands and companies can make millions with a handful of employees, new skills need to be taught in a new economy.
Always Be Storytelling
Most of what learn in school is narrative or advice. We relate what we think are the facts and then give recommendations, and our teachers evaluate.
Sorry, but twenty years old, you aren’t wise enough to give advice. Instead of telling me what I should do, tell me what you did.
Everyone loves a story. The best speeches are often framed as stories. Storyteling today is often told through blogging, podcasting, e-book publishing,etc. Note that none of these platforms are taught in school. We are still having students churn out dry case studies and book reports in Microsoft Word!
Create Value for More than a Grade
The only people we have to please to earn good grades in school is the teacher. Unhappy teacher, unhappy grade.
While working closely with a teacher can be good preparation for working with a boss or mentor, success in “real life” is not anchored to satisfying one person.
In life, you’ll never please everyone all the time. But you do need to find that group who values your opinions. It’s difficult to find one’s niche in college, where the only outlet for schoolwork is sleepy pockets of academia.
The solution here, again, is to take advantage of the proliferation of ways to spread ideas. You want to see if your ideas give value to a tribe, not just one teacher.
Outsourcing is Good. Down with Group Projects!
Sure, you get group projects. But is this anything like figuring out what to do when a freelancer doesn’t turn something in on time or you have to manage an assistant who is 3,000 miles away?
The problem with group projects in school is nobody’s in charge and nobody can get fired.
Instead, what if we created school projects that required some outsourcing? Currently, not doing all your own work on a school project is considered deceitful. But the real economy depends on the division of labor. Have students learn to find the best places to outsource. Fire assistants who aren’t working. This way, the student is in charge of his project’s quality and not tethered to lazy classmates.
Photo courtesy Picography.