As four-year university education in America continues to push people into debt without delivering real world value, market forces will put the power of educating in the hands of the student (i.e. customer). For educators, the primary role will be to promote a thirst for knowledge and a blueprint for learning, as the students of tomorrow will drink from the bottomless well of information available in the palms of their hands. I look forward to the future of education.
Institutional brands of education will give way to relevant knowledge regardless of its origin, though that origin may very well be community colleges where vocational training prevails and costs are kept in check. However, for the sake of innovation, entrepreneurship, and the economy, we cannot not just prepare students for the jobs of today. We must also prepare them to create the jobs of tomorrow. This requires integrating a liberal education into today’s two-year programs, which includes experiential and peer-to-peer learning that will also develop “soft skills.”
The arts must also come back into focus. The current buzz around STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) brings many good skills to the surface, but suppresses perhaps the most “critical.” STEAM is more important, because without the arts, we suppress critical thinking as well as stifle creativity and empathy…the ingredients of innovation and leadership. This may very well be by design, but it isn’t going to do society any good in the long run.