Originally published on Nov 12, 2012
Myself, I through a fair bit of content, specifically from free and open education sites. I can kind of foresee how basic education and perhaps even higher education could be completely free in the immediate future (4 to 6 years). In fact this has already happening. All you need to tap into this resource is a connection to the Internet. Schools and Universities will always exist in brick and mortar, but that’s not the focus of this blog-post. Rather, it’s not hard to extrapolate how this phenomenon (education unleashed) has the potential of fundamentally changing the geopolitical landscape in the next 25 to 50 years. Nations that are allowing the systematic dumbing down of their populations today (by design or by indifference), would end up paying a very heavy price for their actions. On the other hand, nations investing in their human capital with a keen focus on building or promoting the foundations of an intellectually aware society, will prosper. I think I have blogged about India and it’s amazing plan for digitizing/linking up all 4000 of it’s libraries. Couple that with the under $20 tablet that is being mass produced in India and you are effectively setting up the foundation for the next intellectual super power in the making. Mass-scale prosperity will soon follow.
Switching gears, the immediate challenge that lies before humanity is:
What do we do with all this information that we have collected and that we continue collecting at breath-taking speeds? Considering how the systems have been designed today, the ideal distillation of knowledge & then applying it somewhere. That that process is extremely inefficient. Even the dispersal and dissemination of education is very Neanderthal. Billions of kids, go to school everyday and they are literally forced to sit and soak up information about subjects that they might or not be interested in.
Montessori exists, but not many can afford it. Home schooling is also an option, but with 99% of the majority being increasingly busy at trying to put food on the tablet and ensuring that a roof remains on top of the head. Spending quality time with their children is not a luxury that a majority of the parents can afford. More so now, then ever before.
So, how do we re-design the educational system and even our workforce in such a way, so that:
Something is clearly broken. Let’s focus on North America as an example. See, student debt is a big problem in both Canada and the United States. In fact, it’s close to a trillion dollars worth of student debt loans in US. Students accrue all this debt and take on an enormous amount of stress. Yet, education standards are falling . Youth joblessness is up link.
There are other, bigger consequences. For example:
The Secret Weapon
The thing that might be keeping everything, and I mean everything intact is probably the H1B visa, as Michio Kaku claims it does. However, it’s about time that the North American society stopped relying on a cluster of geniuses in order to run it’s entire economy. It’s an astoundingly huge & ridiculously insane gamble really. Specially in light of the reverse brain drain, that is occurring at a much faster rate than ever before.
These problems did not emerge overnight. Someone dropped the ball decades ago and the overall effect might have been masked. A case could also be made for polices that we made decades ago and that could’ve been positively impacting the system all this time. But at a certain point in time policies and even institutes become outdated and irrelevant. In some respects, the rest of the world is evolving and developing at a much faster rate as compared to the pace of change here in North America (Specially US). Cannot continue ignoring these reforms as the consequences down the road could be catastrophic.
Education needs a massive over-haul from the ground up. No sudden/drastic changes. The more organic the change, the better. But, we don’t necessarily have the luxury of waiting decades upon decades for change to occur. Good news is, that the auto-correction mode in the system has already kicked in. Meaning, the change has already started.
We are witnessing: