The Future of Education (Hint – Not Based on Brick Walls)

One of the key points of the book is that higher education must teach students how to acquire human and social capital, and the values that are essential to success in the emerging economy. The current system assumes students will acquire the necessary values by some sort of magic. This explains much of the failure of the current system to prepare students to prosper in the emerging economy.

Charles Hugh Smith 

So right on don’t you think? Human and social capital is the key. Developing abilities of the person (human capital) and connections throughout society (social capital) will help a person grow and be able to take care of himself more later on than simply studying a random mish-mash of topics, spending $250,000 and graduating unemployed.

courtesy of Vancouver Library on Flickr
courtesy of Vancouver Library on Flickr

Engineering schools had it right oftentimes. At least graduates were learning a usable skill (one can study liberal arts while also learning usable skills!). But colleges have increasingly become big  business, with a “cartel” like attitude, while seeing their effectiveness at developing young people for the future decline. It surprises me especially that in Congress, democrats are the ones supporting this – it’s so like big business you’d think the college ” cartel” were a republican pet project.

Instead, colleges convince Americans (and congress) that we just need more student aid, and congress complies by sending that aid just as  universities blast tuition up at rates much higher than CPI (general inflation measure). What a racket – keep raising the price and then guilt the country into subsidizing those increases by either increasing financial aid or more prevalently, letting kids borrow for college at a pace that they won’t likely pay back in decades.

Courtesy of Of Two Minds Site

And to learn what?

What I’d like to transition to is what I think students should consider learning to be ready for the next 50-100 years.

What Skills I Want My Kids to Possess

I have a whole series of skills I’d like to impart to my son so that he is more capable of making better decisions in the world. I don’t actually care too much what career he chooses – and if we’d even call them “careers” in 20 years. I just want him to be completely free to choose what he wants to do because I helped him with the building block abilities. Some of these skills are obvious, others maybe not so. Today I am going to cover one and then plan to do a series of occasional articles on other skills.

Language Skills 

I will start with one of the obvious ones. The ability to go to foreign lands and speak the language, and if possible, really learn the culture, will be beneficial as the world grows smaller. There are some exceptions, and believe me I’ve met them, but generally language can open people up to understanding and new ways of thinking.

Also, with so many multilingual families, and the fact that the stigma of yesteryear about having an “accent” has subsided immeasurably (that’s why I don’t speak Italian), kids will NEED language skills just to keep up. Companies will increasingly do business globally. Good work opportunities might only be overseas. If all the child can speak is their homeland tongue, how does that help?

Just like everyone has a bachelors degree (which causes the poor drone students to obtain masters degrees and PhD’s just to be “different”), everyone will have language ability-  or at least the educated, successful class will. if your goal for your child is not to be successful, then by all means, keep them language limited and find a good custodian job for them. But if you want your child to have CHOICES, then language skills are a must. And not all languages are spoken. One of the other skills I will mention is a language not spoken in any one country but it is known in most countries.

Tulane Freshmen Check in (source: Tulane PR)
Tulane Freshmen Check in (source: Tulane PR)

Our plan is to find a good language nanny to help us and teach language. My guess, and I am not the expert on this but I would think that learning an Asian or Arabic language first (ones with completely different “alphabets” and tongue/mouth gymnastics:), then a romance language later (for Americans) would be the way to go. You do what you think is best but if you feel as I do, don’t waste time on this goal.

And this is a skill they will have – not requiring college courses in the basics of the language at $6k a pop, right?