How can we educationally prepare for a life and career that will be radically different than what we know now? If you prepare for something, doesn’t it follow that you have to know what you are preparing for so you can design your path to reach that outcome? Technology is turning the world of learning upside-down. Everything is changing so fast, that training and education for a tech-driven world is like trying to hit a moving target. Once you think you’ve got the fundamentals nailed down, everything alters again.
Then, does it really make sense to have our current model of learning that is “front loaded.” When we are young, we mostly go to school. We don’t work much, if at all. Later in life, it is directly the opposite. We go to work, but we rarely go to school or become more educated. Doesn’t this front-loaded model seem inadequate for today’s tech heavy world.
It didn’t used to be that way. Before the industrial revolution, people began to work immediately after “primary school” — anywhere from age 13 – 16. They worked at an apprenticeship, where they learned while doing. This provided a number of benefits. They began to work while they were still young, strong and highly motivated. And they could continue to improve on their skills over a lifetime — choosing to learn what was most important to them based on their experiences working. They could tailor their learning, so to speak, to meet the needs of their profession.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a similar model today? Instead of going to school for 12 grades, plus 4 years of college, and even more years of graduate school — you could work for a while, then return to school for a few years, then work again. It may seem difficult to do, but it could be done. And it could be done if we began to embrace the apprenticeship model and the 2-year degree. By completing a 2 year degree, with or without an apprenticeship, you can get your “feet wet” in the world of work at a young age. Then you could return to get another 2-year degree later, when you are more ready, more focused and more driven to achieve you goals.
With technology changing constantly, it is the person who continues to learn throughout their lives that will be able to keep up. Can our front-loaded education model meet this need for continuous learning? It is doubtful. There needs to be a new model. One that is more agile, more rapid and more able to change to meet the needs of an ever changing world.