I think Clayton Christensen explained it best when he admitted that higher education institutions such as his beloved Harvard Business School can't teach their own students how to operate adaptively in the real world. A world that is incredibly fast-paced and prone to constant disruption.
Of course, this crisis in learning doesn't just happen at the higher education levels, it goes all the way down to early grade school. I have teachers for neighbors who have put their own kids in home school because they cannot get the kind of creative support and intellectual enrichment they need.
Traditional forms of education have taught people to become specialists in disciplines that are often rendered obsolete or those which can't adapt to sweeping cultural, industrial and/or technological change.
I'd assert that education is less about reforming a single system, or a set of systems, and more about putting it right at the center of everything.
My friend John Hagel has described one iteration of this idea as 'corporations as learning centers' and I think it is spot on. Anti-corporate sentiment abounds (and understandably so), but when you
consider that corporations have more money, more credit and a greater
ability to distribute than ever before, there is also a tremendous
opportunity to teach 21st century skills... and to build markets of real value.
What kind of skills?
I'm specifically talking about creative development, critical thinking
and open design as the pivotal skills that can move mountains. The stuff
you can learn in liberal arts programs, and precisely more of what the world needs right now.
I work with lots of startups, and what's interesting is to see how successful entrepreneurs constantly adapt to cultural and technological shifts, and how they build these cognitive skills.
Learning is at the center of
everything they do.
Apply that at scale, and suddenly society is transformed.
So, let's get right to it!