I spoke to at a local education conference today in the Seattle area. As I was discussing the uncertainties in the future of education, I realized that these angst ridden deliberations on the future of education are very timely in an unintuitive way, and that may be the key to innovation. America has the opportunity to seize the future of learning as the emerging markets scurry, for the most part, to builds hundreds, even thousands of new institutions that emulate the historical model of learning developed in the US and Europe.
India, for instance, is trying to meet the the 1997 Labour promise for getting 50 per cent of students into higher education. They are short by over 10% already, and 1.15B students are under 14. So they could fall even shorter. They are shoring up standards, but they are also building schools, lots of them (see 1,000 new universities for India? from the Telegraph). India is after foreign schools to take their brands into India as a way to build out the promise. As I read it, universities, for the most part, are being charged with replicating the systems we have in the US, the UK and great Europe.
We can complain, go into survival mode, retrench under pressure and dream about a return to normalcy. Or we can reinvent our education system and take a strong lead in the global knowledge economy—we can challenge assumptions, create new metrics, define new models of success and engagement, all while the rest of the world is still copying what we did for the last 100 years. We have done it with technology in the past, perhaps this time we can do it with something more abstract. Well, we also did it with global finance systems, which is pretty abstract too, and that isn’t working out so well. Perhaps with more beneficent goals and learning from the failures of others, we can craft a learning system that is more transparent and more sustainable than systems built on the assumption of consumption, which is what should be the dialog for the next generation.
More on the last point soon.