The Future Of Education

No, your eyes are not deceiving you, this is the exact same image that I used for my blog post on the Future Of Work.

Why? Because this guy could just as easily be learning how to code, or start a business, or learning how to swim. Just as the future of work will be discrete units of work that we will fit around our lives, and can do anywhere, anytime and for anyone, education will be exactly the same. Why should education remain as a single block of learning from K-12, then college? Education will explode in the exact same way.

Let me backtrack a bit. Everyone know that the current education system is in shambles. For far too long, we’ve allowed this monolithic system of learning to run our lives – its a hold over from the days when we used to live on farms (ever wonder why the school year starts in September or thereabouts) and work in factories, building real things. Not only is the system itself outmoded (imagine having to get up and go to a school and be among other students in order to learn things in a stuffy classroom, listening to barely qualified individuals who pontificate boringly on subjects they hardly know well) the lessons that are being taught are rife with politics. The kids are less educated and more behavior modified than anything else.

The whole system is behind the times. Dedicating huge blocks of your time and your life and your money to an education which can barely prepare you for the real world, whats the point of that?

Where did you first learn to use the internet to get the answers to your questions? Not in a classroom, I’ll bet. Where did you learn to communicate with your friends, both near and far, online? Again, not in class. In fact, I’d argue that we learn more about existing in the world of today in the world of today, not stepping back in time when we entered a musty old classroom. Do they still use chalkboard?

Of course, not all school is bad. There are social aspects to it that are very important. I think its great that kids are forced to talk directly to each other in class, and I applaud more Socratic Methods (less learning, more discussion approach). In fact, its my guess that our current social networking driven world is creating a whole generation (or two) of introverts who will find it difficult to talk directly to people face to face. You can be pretty expressive via your smartphone, but don’t expect me to talk directly to anyone! That’s a topic for another post but I bet that there will be (and probably already is) a huge market for products for this new generation of introverts we are creating. (Introverts aren’t all bad, I hear :))

No, the future of education needs to mirror the future of work: bite-sized chunks of learning, preferably not only in a class setting but anywhere, anytime and on any subject, just like our beach loving dude above. Learning will be just-in-time, online and even be able to be delivered by wearable devices in tiny chunks while you are in line waiting for something else. All of the trappings of education: the testing, the class time, the discussions, the papers, the time devoted, will all happen in little LEGO blocks of time in-between life. Education is not something that you will have to go to, or spend a lot of time doing. It’s something that will just happen, just before you need it.

Just like in the Matrix, when Tank downloaded the ability for Trinity to pilot a V-212 helicopter just before she needed to know how to do it, our educational systems of the future need to be just that powerful – giving us the exact knowledge we need, exactly when we need it. We need to understand that there is this vast, global repository of the worlds knowledge out there, (the internet, duh) and that we need to design our educational systems to assume that it will always be there, and can always be tapped into by anyone who needs it at any time.

Think about it: how would everything change if we just assumed that we could tap into the internet to answer any question we might have at any time? How would education be completely different – instead of memorizing facts and figures, we would focus on teaching people how to think, how to solve problems, and do big things. This is something that’s massively transformational and could spawn a million startups.