Jack-Of-All-Trades Are in Demand & Skill Sets Must Pivot

Jack-Of-All-Trades Are in Demand & Skill Sets Must Pivot

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Jack-Of-All-Trades Are in Demand & Skill Sets Must Pivot

While Millennials and Generation Z are proficient in some skills required for career and life, they must broaden their scope in order to adapt to the ever-changing demands in the workplace.

To diversify and be the kind of worker currently in demand, they must pivot from having an I-shaped skill set to becoming T-shaped workers. I-shapers have expertise and knowledge related to a specific area such as engineering while T-shapers have those skills plus are able to think more broadly while collaborating more effectively with others with different expertise.  I think of it as Individual versus Team, and the latter requires the proverbial “soft skills.”

T-Shaped Workers

Ernest Wilson, former dean of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communications and Journalism, published research in a 2015 Harvard Business Review article concluding that the five “soft skill” attributes forming the “T” were adaptability, cultural competence, 360-degree thinking, intellectual curiosity, and empathy. 

Jack-Of-All-Trades Are in Demand & Skill Sets Must Pivot

In a more recent Wall Street Journal article, Irving Wladawsky-Berger noted the shift in worker profile that the U.S. Navy wants on their modern ships.  He states that crew size has been reduced significantly and the need for “jacks-of-all-trades” has increased. They are not specialists in a field but at applying information across fields.  In articulating the growth in demand for T-shaped workers, Wladawsky-Berger draws this conclusion regarding limitations of I-shaped workers:

“Hard skills tend to be deep but narrow. Their half-life is getting shorter. The more specific and concrete the skills, the more they are prone to be automated or significantly transformed by advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, making it necessary for workers to be flexible enough to keep adapting to the continuing changes in the workplace."

National School Boards Attributes the Gap to Less Work Experience

Thomas Gentzel, Executive Director and CEO of The National School Boards Association, tells the Comcast National Newsmakers Team in an interview about Bridging the Workplace Skills Gap, “About 40 years ago, almost 6 out of every 10 teenagers had some kind of a job - a part-time job, a summer job. Today, it’s just a little over 1 out of 3.  So fewer and fewer students actually have the experience of working even part-time and then acquiring those soft skills as a result. So, this is something we have to focus on to make sure that they’re well prepared to be successful, to be life ready, as we say, when they graduate high school.”

In my keynotes, I often tell the story of my first job at age 13 earning minimum wage.  It was during my parents’ divorce and my mother wanted me out of our unstable home as much as possible.  She got me a job changing flat tires at the local bicycle store where I had to interact with co-workers, customers, and a boss who were all much older than me. I believe that this experience provided the needed skills to become an entrepreneur before I graduated high school and build a career fueled by my passions.

Our shortage of T-shaped workers among Millennials and Gen Z can partly be attributed to the lack of educational focus on soft skills and the lessening of real-life work experience.  As pointed out in the article above, the decline in high school students holding any kind of job is significant and is now contributing to this gap. Where real life experience has dropped, schools not increasing this focus is creating a chasm.

Currently, traditional high school education focuses on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) but doesn’t teach the “T” skills such as adaptability, cultural competence, 360-degree thinking, stimulating curiosity and empathy.

Fixing the Gap

So, how do we fix the gap and prepare youth to become T-shaped workers?

As mentioned in my earlier post, “How Cross-Cultural Competence Impacts Workplace Culture and Effectiveness,” groups once considered minorities will together make up at least 52% of the country’s population by 2050.  Our younger generations must be equipped to interact with people of all ethnic backgrounds and cultures in order to thrive in the workplace. To do this, education must teach active listening capabilities, people interaction skills, flexibility, and emotional intelligence.

Students must also develop 360-degree thinking. Data triangulation is a great method of developing this kind of thinking--consulting three or more resources to best grasp a full view of a topic by evaluating different perspectives. This increases the validity of findings and leads to a broader understanding of issues. With our current polarizing viewpoints, developing this soft skill is imperative for the workplace.

This must then fold into civil discourse which is also a learnable skill. As I have noted in the past, here are three ways we can teach students to engage in productive dialogue and express empathy versus hostility.  The capacity for empathy and the ability to express it is a social skill severely lacking in what Chris Lundberg, assistant professor of rhetoric at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, refers to as a “society of incivility.”  If we want our youth to succeed and become the T-shaped workers our workforce requires, we must increase experiential learning to overcome the lack of real-world experience and further focus on soft skills development. That is what is needed to help them to thrive, pivot,  and always be in-demand. 

So let’s engage in some civil discourse.  Please feel free to share your thoughts below and together we will find solutions.

Ravi can help you and your organization pivot and reach the next level

Ravi Unites Schools Update

We have had an overwhelming number of new members join the Ravi Unites Schools network this past quarter.  It has come to the point where the model needs to pivot in order to best serve all members and enable more students worldwide to interact.  So, we are now looking into corporate sponsorships to help us elevate the platform to become self sufficient with a support team that can manage it.  If you or your organization would like to learn more about becoming a strategic partner of Ravi Unites Schools, please send an email to connect@raviunitesschools.com.  Meanwhile, we will still be setting up interactions in the capacity in which we are able.

Other News and Announcements

Ravi recently gave a keynote to the Virginia ASCD association at their annual conference.  It was very well received, with a large number of school districts inquiring about convocations.  Since Ravi is a Virginia resident and he has both a vested interest and smaller travel costs in-state, he is offering steep discounts to Virginia schools.  Of course, he will also do what he can for those outside of the state as well because education matters and we must put students first.  If you are interested in having Ravi deliver your 2020 school convocation keynote, please send us a message through our contact page, https://raviunties.com/contact.


To learn where Ravi will be speaking next or to view current special offers, please visit the lower portion of the website home page here.

Is Capitalism Failing?

Is Capitalism Failing?

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Chile Protests
Protests in Chile

Government sources continue to report current US economic statistics showing low unemployment, increases in consumer spending, and gains in the stock market.  However, beneath political rhetoric there may be more than meets the eye. As Bloomberg.com reports, “The middle-class Americans who are the main targets of Trump’s economic pitch aren’t sharing much in the gains of U.S. growth.”  

Despite the story of a strong and stable economy, we may have a weakened one. Some evidence can be more easily observed through our South American little brother, Chile, which is currently experiencing a capitalism crisis. As a defender of socially responsible capitalism (which ought not be an oxymoron), this concerns me.

I am currently in Chile and witnessing a world-proclaimed prosperous capitalist economy unravel.  Over the past two weeks, I have run from scores of angry protestors being chased by military tanks shooting water cannons and tear gas (never had such burning in my lungs, eyes, and nose), saw restaurants where I dined one day being burned to rubble the next, and now flee raging fires (suggested to be arson) that are consuming thousands of acres and spawning flames within a few feet of my car.  See it all for yourself on my facebook page: https://facebook.com/raviunites

Hong Kong, France, Lebanon, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Iraq, and Iran are also currently experiencing outbreaks of protest, violence, and destruction. Inequality, healthcare and education access, and intolerance for corruption within government, police, and military are common, and they also all evolve into violence and destruction that originates not from the bottom of the socio-economic spectrum, but rather, “the middle-class.” 

is capitalism failing?
Recent Photo take in Chile during protests

Yet each of these various movements have different political opponents. Hong Kong and Venezuelan protests are fighting socialist/communist governments while Chilean and French protests are turning against capitalist/neoliberal ones. If we dig deeper into history, Hong Kong was controlled for years by some of the most aggressive imperialists ever (the British) while Chile had the first democratically elected socialist president (Allende in 1970, who was overthrown in 1973 by the US backed military coup that put dictator Pinochet into power for 17 years, during which he established a capitalist economy).  Today, some Chileans call for a “Pinochet” style of leadership to return in order to curb violence and secure the economy while the other “half” accuse the current democratic government of increasing disparity and implementing a Pinochet style of military oppression in response to protests. 

To be clear, no socialism or dictatorship exists in Chile today.  In fact, it is extreme capitalism and very much a democratic republic. Like in France, “the people” are standing up against capitalism. In reality, the post-Pinochet strengthening of Chile’s economy left many people behind which is why the US must take note even though our media does little to cover the “fall of capitalism” in favor of the more palatable “fall of communism” in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Hong Kong. 

So, let’s examine three underreported factors that expose our weakening economy.

Underemployment: Double the Rate of Unemployment

While quick to report the U.S. economy’s low unemployment rate of 3.7% (as of June), the media generally overlooks the rate of under-employment which is 7.2%—double the June 2019 unemployment rate of 3.7%. 

According to brookings.edu, “The unemployment rate is in some ways a narrow measure of the labor market that misses important aspects of labor market distress. A broader indicator of labor market weakness called the underemployment rate—and in Bureau of Labor Statistics jargon referred to as the U-6 unemployment rate—takes into account some of this additional distress. Examining both unemployment and underemployment is useful for analyzing different aspects of the labor market.”

While a relatively small percentage of people are out of work, there is still considerable underutilized labor and many for whom the labor market is not providing adequate opportunities. This also means fewer are tapping into social programs designed to help those in need, which is positive except that under-employing people creates a proverbial doughnut hole where working families are still not able to sustain themselves yet no longer qualify for help.  When fewer get social help but experience social mobility, they become victims of credit and predatory lending. How can this equal a healthy economy? Would there even be a middle class if it were not for credit cards?

Increasing Credit Card Debt

The middle class exists largely due to credit which eventually causes a credit crisis in the economy. We saw it in 2008 with subprime mortgages.  We see it today in Chile with low wages and high costs of goods including education and healthcare accessed through predatory lending—two issues facing many US citizens.

Cnbc.com reported that outstanding consumer debt exceeded $4 trillion for the first time, according to the Federal Reserve.  The average American has a credit card balance of $4,293. At an average of 17.41%, interest rates have never been higher. 

Massive Educational Debt

If those are not enough, the middle class also carries massive student debt.  The average per adult now exceeds $37,000 with a loan-repayment average timeline of 19.7 years, according to nitrocollege.com.  

Cnbc.com reports, “Outstanding student loan debt has tripled in the last decade and is now $1.5 trillion. A college education is now the second-largest expense an individual is likely to make in a lifetime-right after purchasing a home.”

With 7.2% of U.S. citizens underemployed and with credit card and student loan debt at an all-time high, our economy cannot be as politicians would have you believe. 

In Conclusion

There is a lot more to our economy than headlines tell us. Poverty alleviation as a key objective of an economic system is misleading because one also must make sure that when moving people into a middle-class, it cannot be one that ultimately collapses in debt.  Is it really a middle-class if it lacks financial literacy, independence, and sustainability? Is it ethical to move people out of social assistance programs only to expose them to predatory lenders that saddle them with debt? 

I believe that whether capitalism, socialism, or something else prevails, we now live in a sharing economy that relies less on vertical economies (tickle up or trickle down) and more on lateral networks.  Capital itself has transitioned from financial to social. 

Moreover, I see the greatest enemy of every society being polarization.  Lack of civil discourse is our greatest obstacle yet is also the most necessary opportunity to create today.   If we can achieve that, everything else will begin to fall into place. We should debate economic theories, cultural differences, environmental concerns, and more, however, until we bring most people back toward the middle, is there any system that can be implemented successfully? 

For more regarding this discussion, check out my most recent interview with Jim Blasingame on the Small Business Advocate, at smallbusinessadvocate.com


Ravi can help you and your organization pivot and reach the next level

Ravi Unites Schools Update

We had planned to set up multiple interactions during Ravi’s current stay in Chile, however, due to the social unrest and violence, schools have been closed for multiple days causing unpredictable schedules and a high work load to catch up before summer vacation (which begins next week in the southern hemisphere). We hope to schedule more interactions globally soon, but possibly not before 2020. Nevertheless, please keep an eye on your inbox as we will contact you as soon as an opportunity arises.

Other News and Announcements

Ravi and Britannica have extended their partnership into 2020.  This means we can partially subsidize the cost of a keynote to qualifying educational events which will amount to a generous 40% savings for you.  To secure your partially subsidized keynote, please reply to this email with your planned date and location so we can let you know the details and hold the date for you.  Don’t delay, as the funds are limited and allocated on a first come-first serve basis.

Ravi has been in Chile facing the extreme social unrest head on (as highlighted in this month’s blog post). He will fly straight from there to give the keynote in December for VASCD (Virginia ASCD) in historic Williamsburg VA, and will speak on Cultural Competence as a Pathway to Equity in Education.


To learn where Ravi will be speaking next or to view current special offers, please visit the lower portion of the website home page here.

Polarization in the USA and the Need to Teach Data Triangulation

Polarization in the USA and the Need to Teach Data Triangulation

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Polarization has become serious in the U.S. and has significant negative consequences that impact society. From the cultural divide between Republicans and Democrats to positions on immigration, racial equity, same-sex marriage and more, deep lines have been drawn. Arguably, even our current rifts on impeachment and middle east issues are based more on partisanship than fact.  This divide places “the other side” as a threat and collaborative communication is nearly non-existent. Even our news sources have become entrenched in positional reporting, making it difficult for many to have an objective and non-partisan viewpoint.  

One of the most beautiful realizations I had about overcoming extreme differences was when I traveled from Beirut to Baalbek in Lebanon.  My Christian driver and I cautiously traversed Hezbollah territory only to be stopped and have a soldier board our car. We drove for 20 minutes with my driver and the soldier having an animated conversation in Arabic--I was sure they were making a deal and I was being sold out to a terrorist.  At the next checkpoint, the soldier got out and my driver and I continued on to Baalbek. Seeing my sense of relief, he turned to me and calmly said, “Don’t worry; he is Muslim and I am Christian but first we are both Lebanese.” 

Surely if they can prioritize nationalism, Republicans and Democrats ought to be able to first be Americans.  If we are to overcome polarization, significant shifts need to occur and educators have a powerful opportunity to facilitate this by teaching students to triangulate data before succumbing to perceptions.

What is Data Triangulation?

Triangulation of data involves consulting three or more sources on a topic. This increases the validity of research and leads to better understanding through the study of different opinions on the same topic. The benefits include establishing broader context on an issue as well as the need to synthesize and evaluate differences. Conclusions from one source may reinforce or conflict with others. The output from a given data collection process can also confirm or disprove a hypothesis generated by another theory. 

In the cockpit of an airplane, we look at three or more instruments before concluding the status of the flight. The idea is to minimize bias and increase objective understanding that looks at an issue from multiple angles. If teachers implement this model and help students use this in all subjects, this will not only help students see issues more objectively in the classroom, but equip them to adopt this practice throughout life. This can, in turn, provide solutions to issues that are paralyzed due to polarization and preempt this polarization in the future. However, access to data is the key.

Network Neutrality

Without network neutrality, our partisan news sources can skew information in one direction. With it, all people regardless of socioeconomic status can get data from different sources and compare because Internet service providers would be required to allow users to create and access content equitably and free of charge.  Teachers then would have a powerful opportunity that will impact decision-making for years to come by helping students to engage with material from all sides of a matter. This eliminates bias that brings about polarization.

Moreover, teaching students to champion network neutrality and the facilitation of data triangulation will mold them into citizens that do not lean on one-sided political opinions or ideologies. In an economy that now depends on the sharing of knowledge, critical thinking is essential. Network neutrality will benefit students in the long run, making them more objective and less prone to a one-sided perspective on issues.

Civil Discourse

Holding classroom debates as part of data triangulation can also be valuable as it helps people see from another’s perspective. Debates can even be one of the data collection methods used in triangulation. Getting the opinions of others on specific political issues that they have researched can be mind-expanding and can help broaden attitudes when facilitated with care, and it allows for the sharing of diverse views with an intent to listen and understand the other party. This is civil discourse. 

Data Triangulation and Vaping

Consider the current national issues surrounding vaping.  This provides teachers a relevant front-burner issue where data triangulation could be used in the classroom, enabling students to dive into the debate, grow in their data triangulation skills, and come up with relevant recommendations that are non-partisan and well-researched.  It will also organically draw teens to the dangers and considerations of vaping without imposing authority and risking rejection.

Flip the Classroom

By flipping the classroom and shifting teachers from presenters to facilitators, we can empower students to look at all sides of any issue while equipping them with a lifelong skill that can benefit society for decades to come.

Ravi can help you and your organization pivot and reach the next level

Ravi Unites Schools Update

We are preparing for a number of new interactions between Chile, India, and the US.  Please keep an eye on your email as we will be sending out possible dates soon. We are also working on getting new international schools in the network from Portugal, France, and beyond.

Other News and Announcements

Last month was a busy one for me in Education.  I gave the keynote for Indiana School Boards Association & Indiana Public School Administrators Association, New Hampshire School Administrators Association, Virginia Association of School Superintendents Region VIII, and spoke to students at Ben Davis University High School in Indiana. This week I head to Milwaukee to address the Milwaukee Area Technical College as well as local high school. Thank you to Britannica who helped make each of these possible through our ongoing partnership.

"Songwriting Safari" in Chile

Do not miss this opportunity!  A “Songwriting Safari” in Chile
February 21-March 1, 2020.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to collaborate with songwriters from multiple cultures and backgrounds under the guidance of Ravi Hutheesing, former member of three-time Grammy Award nominee, Hanson.  You will write at least three songs with hands-on instruction from Ravi and his award-winning songwriting teaching method, 1-2-3 Songwriting, as well as learn from carefully selected well-known guest instructors.  By participating in this unique ten-day workshop, you will create timeless songs, build global friendships and memorable artistic collaborations, and discover how you can use your talents to change the world.

Learn more here: Songwriting Safari in Chile 2020

To learn where Ravi will be speaking next or to view current special offers, please visit the lower portion of the website home page here.

Millennials in the Workplace: Why and How Your Company Needs to Pivot

Millennials in the Workplace: Why and How Your Company Needs to Pivot

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Millennials in the Workplace Why and How your Company Needs to Pivot

Millennials have arrived and are changing the workplace forever.  They have different desires and expectations than past generations and therefore companies must pivot, shifting from maintaining methods that worked for baby boomers to those that resonate with millennials. With 35% of the labor force now being made up of millennials, this is a pressing issue for businesses as baby-boomers retire.

Why Your Company Needs to Pivot to Millennials Working Habits

Millennials are Hard to Recruit and Retain

Millennial turnover already costs the US economy $30.5 billion annually. They are the most educated generation in history and expected to form 75% of the workforce by 2030. The impact of high employee turnover is significant for all companies because it not only results in higher recruiting costs, but also a decline in productivity, overall revenue, employee morale, and cohesive company culture. Millennials have a reputation for job-hopping as they become bored or see new opportunities. This high turnover ratio can have a huge impact on a company's bottom line so the need to retain and enable millennials to thrive is critical.

Let’s look deeper at reasons why millennials are so detached from organizations.

  • It Takes Longer for Millennials to Choose a Career

The director of the lab on aging at Harvard Medical School says the first person to live until 150 has already been born.  This means that it will simply take millennials longer to find what they want to do for 100 years of their working lives.  They are having a hard time finding jobs that they feel passionate about as they explore various roles and try different career paths and will only settle short-term for a career if it puts food on their table.  They want more, both in terms of pay and meaning. If they come across a better opportunity, they are quick to transition. This long-term view of life and bias for “purpose” means that they are taking longer to find a career they want.

  • Millennials have Less Real-Work Experience

Millennials have also spent a lot of time building their academic records. They were told that a good academic record equated career opportunities.  Moreover, they enjoyed college life, leaving them less inclined to move quickly into the workforce. While education can be good, millennials often lack a helpful work history and when they graduate, it becomes hard for them to land a job due to this lack of experience. Millennials grew up with so many choices presented to them that many lack the ability to create opportunities when none are apparent.  Therefore, many still search for their passion and interests and this has resulted in dissatisfaction at the workplace and hence, higher attrition.

I’ve said before that experiential learning prepares students for the real world. Exposure to real-life work experience sharpens students’ competencies, helps them change their mind-set about the job market, and gives them qualified time to identify their passions. Lack of experiential learning denies students the time to adapt to the real world, taking longer for them to choose their career paths after graduating

  • They are the Most Entrepreneurial and Least Loyal to Organizations

The millennial generation is the most entrepreneurial generation we have ever seen. They are showing themselves to be the most purpose-driven and as such, the most detached from major institutions such as politics, religion, and marriage. Their commitment and loyalty to organizations is equally minimal. The reason behind their entrepreneurial mind-set is that they have lost faith in employment as well as that desire for flexibility. The unemployment rate for millennials stands above the overall rate at 12.8%. Unemployment and uncertainty in the job market have motivated them to start their own projects and chart their own career paths. The broken promises in employment like getting promotions after investing in higher education make them less committed to employers.

  • Millennials Value Integration Versus Work-Life Balance

The traditional work-life balance environment designed by baby boomers will not suit millennial lifestyle and goals. They want work-life integration.  The ability to do important work while in flip flops and checking social media! Millennials will be attracted to your organization if allowed to work when their productivity peaks. They value autonomy and options and look for flexible work hours as well as the ability to work remotely.

How Your Company Must Pivot to Consider Millennials

As illustrated, millennials have different career expectations. To successfully recruit and retain millennials in your organization, here are key considerations and recommendations.

  • Take a Work-Life Integration Approach

Work-life integration beyond just creating a balance is critical to millennials. Integrate technology to make it easy for them to work remotely. As working hours become extended, you need to provide flexible schedules which allow millennials to work at their rhythm.  Offering substantial paid time off and support for family events such as births and childcare is also greatly valued.

  • Provide Regular Feedback and Encouragement

Millennials are motivated by making a difference and innovation. To motivate millennial employees, provide regular feedback and encouragement. They need to feel connected to their team and the fellow workers. Millennial workers are more content where their efforts are recognized--this generation grew up receiving trophies for 5th place! They are more concerned about making a difference than making a profit, so how can your company showcase your social values? 

  • Create Pathways for Millennials to Move within the Organization

As noted, it takes millennials some significant time before they settle for a career.  They want to accumulate experiences and refrain from settling down. Millennials prefer to stay in companies where there is progressive growth, so how can your company allow pathways for millennials to try different roles and move internally within the organization rather than leaving the organization?

  • Allow Millennials to Be Innovative

Another key for companies today is to include millennials early on in the transformation of systems, processes, and activities. To attract them, encourage internal innovation to allow them to work and think differently. Millennials prefer flexibility to specific schedules, the opportunity to innovate and have progressive growth, and having a sense of ownership of the results. 

By taking the above into consideration and shifting your HR process and company culture, your company can become an attractive place that will recruit,  motivate, and retain millennial employees.

Ravi can help you and your organization pivot and reach the next level

Ravi Unites Schools Update

We have had four amazing interactions since the last newsletter, making this the busiest month ever for Ravi Unites Schools.  At the end of August I hosted one live from Chile where students of the MacKay School in Vina Del Mar interacted with peers in Santa Ana California USA.  Then later that week, I hosted virtually (still from Chile) and interaction between Tamil Nadu India and Aurora Ohio USA. Then I went to India and alongside student in Tamil Nadu, I hosted an interaction with their peers from Stevens Point Wisconsin USA.  Finally, alongside students in Mumbai, I hosted an interaction with their peers in Hilton Head South Carolina USA. These were all amazing and you can see some of the latest videos at RaviUnites.com/schools.

Other News and Announcements

India: I am returning today from a jam-packed trip to India.  It began with a very special week at Shanti Bhavan (a boarding school for the poorest of the poor with whom I have partnered for a decade). In addition to giving students workshops on music, public speaking, and social responsibility, the school unveiled the new name of the kindergarten residence building in a ceremony honoring my late grandmother. She will be watching over these amazing kids now, smiling upon them and encouraging them to achieve their dreams and discover all that life has to offer. Hope you can one day visit Krishna Nehru Hutheesing House at Shanti Bhavan in Tamil Nadu, India.

Also while in India, I hosted two Ravi Unites Schools interactions (see Ravi Unites Schools update below) and gave a keynote for the students and faculty of the Singapore International School in Mumbai.  It is a beautiful school with a remarkable staff and very bright students. Thank you to New Millennium Education Partners for bringing me to SIS.

New Management:  I am so excited to announce that Dynamic Communication Management Partners is now managing my speaking career.  Denise and Chris are amazing and so experienced, giving me the opportunity to deliver a higher level of service and content to my keynote clients.

"Songwriting Safari" in Chile

Do not miss this opportunity!  A “Songwriting Safari” in Chile
February 21-March 1, 2020.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to collaborate with songwriters from multiple cultures and backgrounds under the guidance of Ravi Hutheesing, former member of three-time Grammy Award nominee, Hanson.  You will write at least three songs with hands-on instruction from Ravi and his award-winning songwriting teaching method, 1-2-3 Songwriting, as well as learn from carefully selected well-known guest instructors.  By participating in this unique ten-day workshop, you will create timeless songs, build global friendships and memorable artistic collaborations, and discover how you can use your talents to change the world.

Learn more here: Songwriting Safari in Chile 2020

To learn where Ravi will be speaking next or to view current special offers, please visit the lower portion of the website home page here.

The U.S. Education System is Broken, or is it?

The U.S. Education System is Broken, or is it?

Welcome to this month’s edition of news and updates from Ravi Unites!  In this edition:

Please click on a link above to immediately go to that section.


The U.S. Education System is Broken, or is it?

U.S. public education is broken, or at least that is what politicians are telling us. While most statistics actually don’t support this notion, public school systems are being forced more than ever to contend with the school choice movement, and are doing so by implementing everything possible to maintain their enrollment numbers and related funding.  Increased rigor, along with ambitious initiatives from social-emotional to personalized learning to whole-child education, are being woven into the school day. Are we getting to the point where interjecting more educational design might actually be breaking education? Should school be responsible for addressing all aspects of a young person’s development?

The U.S. public education system has its issues, but life will always be the most important teacher. Until we redefine the role of school in our lives, no education system can reach its full potential.

PISA Scores Tell A Tale of Two Cities

When you analyze PISA scores (Programme for International Student Assessment), the latest data shows that U.S. students are average at best. Looking at this alone, one could argue that our system is broken--we should be much better than average. However, when you dissect these scores further and look at schools with fewer than 25% of students on FRLP (Free and Reduced Lunch), the United States jumps right to the top (https://www.turnaroundusa.org/2015-pisa-analysis/).  

It’s not our education system that is broken, it is our society.  We don’t have a public education problem; we have a poverty problem.

Granted, public education must serve all segments of society and hasn’t figured out how to best serve the poor. Poverty is a cycle, and the resources required to effectively break that cycle go beyond what public education should bear when its mandate is to help all students achieve the same results.  No school can be all things to all students, but every school needs to be some things to all students. Basic academics give a strong foundation to all, and schools must also create environments where the entire range of its community is represented. It must foster inclusion and collaboration. The future requires this degree of cultural competence.

I believe the challenge of educating the poor out of poverty needs to be dealt with as a separate but coordinated effort outside of the public school environment.  If we are going to break this cycle, we need a 24/7 mechanism that is either a residential school like Shanti Bhavan with whom I partner in India, or an after-school plus online program that has this focus.  The Los Angeles-based organization Educating Young Minds is an example of the latter. In the USA, I like the after-school model because I still believe that full inclusion in public schools--regardless of race, religion, and socioeconomics--is the only way to properly prepare all students for a globalized future.

Segregation on the Rise

While freedom of choice is as American as apple pie, “school choice” is self-selected segregation.  It may offer parents opportunities and possibilities to help their children acquire the best academic achievement possible, but it sends us backwards in terms of cultural competence and what most of us publicly claim to want: racial and social equality. This can only be accomplished through inclusion and integration.

A 2016 study by the Government Accountability Office concluded that poor, African-American and Hispanic students have been increasingly isolated from their affluent, white peers in charter and magnet schools. The proportion of schools segregated by race and class climbed from 9% in 2001 to 16% in 2014. (https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-16-345)

A recent USA Today article highlighted the details of this disturbing trend. Despite a history of legal efforts that ban segregated schooling, current “choices” lend themselves to this.  Sadly, this will have the lasting impact of instilling a mindset of segregation in young learners rather than teaching and enabling them to truly learn by interacting in multicultural class settings, and to develop the skills and empathy to be positive agents of change.

Where Education Needs to Shift

A holistic education goes beyond the scope of school.  Within K-12 itself, the academic basics and an inclusive environment with mandatory collaborative activities will set a strong foundation for the education of life. Increasing the length of the school day and the pressure on students and teachers to perform reduces interaction with the outside world where children can simultaneously apply their education.  We must pave the way for greater interaction between children and adults who are neither their parents nor teachers, but have much wisdom to share. Finally, we cannot further deprive families of time together. The family unit, for better or worse, is the primary source of a child’s education and identity. For those families who are less stable or functional, having a child with a strong foundation from school can only be a positive influence on the rest of the family, as long as we make sure that the opportunity for outside positive influence from other adults exists.  

School’s primary purpose is no longer educating children, but rather, preparing them to be educated by the world for the rest of their lives.

I would greatly value your thoughts on this subject, so please feel free to send me an email.  Moreover, if you are a teacher or administrator in education, may I request a maximum of ten minutes of your time and ask you to complete the following survey on these very issues?  Your voice helps inform mine, so please click this link and help me out:

CLICK HERE TO TAKE THE SURVEY: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CK6SDC8

Advisory Board Addition

Ravi Unites, Inc., is pleased to announce the addition of Mary Beth Pelosky to the board.  Mary is an expert in educational policy and leadership, including fellowships with the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL), U.S. State Department/ConSed Brazil Principal Exchange, and George Mason’s Confucius Institute (China). She is also a former public school principal, administrator, and teacher.  

View the entire board here >

Ravi Unites Schools Update

  • On April 30, Ravi will host a very special student interaction between students ages 12-14 Wenlock School in Santiago, Chile and MacArthur Middle School in Fort Meade, Maryland, USA.  Both schools are part of the prestigious International Baccalaureate program.
  • As noted above....we want your input and invite you to take this <10 minute survey about the state of US education.  Your voice helps inform mine, and together we really can make a difference.  Click here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CK6SDC8



Millennials, AI & Education in 2018: Thoughts on the Future

Millennials, AI & Education in 2018: Thoughts on the Future
Photo by Billetto Editorial on Unsplash

Millennials, AI & Education in 2018: Thoughts on the Future

Here we are, one month into 2018. While each year we individually turn a page, it is sometimes hard to recognize the gradual evolution of society. We now have a large, young demographic increasingly assuming leadership roles, and a more diverse and open-minded population struggling to find its way amidst a political push for a more traditional social infrastructure. Social shifts are not rocket science; they are a pendulum swing that we have seen many times before.

The generational pendulum is swinging

What makes it different now is that the Baby Boomers were a big generation, X'ers are small, and Millennials are the biggest with Gen Z on track to be even bigger. The big-small-big-small generational pattern is being disrupted. I believe that rather than the pendulum swinging back and forth with each generation as it has in the past, it will now start to swing a wider path.

This will lead to more extremes that are both positive and negative. Millennial idealism will push a multicultural and border-less vision that will generate increasing pushback from boomers. But the younger voice will prevail to a degree where optimism may actually overshadow wisdom and nostalgia. They may, in fact, organically defeat most social injustices. On the other hand, radical ideology in all forms may escalate in opposition. We could see an increase in terrorism and racial divides, both nationally and abroad.

Changes in technology and the job market are coming

Technology and Artificial Intelligence are going to have an increased presence in our lives in 2018. The traditional job market in the short and midterm will consequently shrink. Entrepreneurial opportunities will blossom for those broadminded enough to recognize them.

A shrinking job market will work against the current USP (unique selling proposition) of education—"College and Career Ready." We must embrace the opportunity to find applications for newly available human capital. Let's figure out how to effectively teach entrepreneurship and innovation, which I believe means embracing a liberal arts education.

Education's responsibility in 2018 and beyond

The combination of all these forces gives education its greatest opportunity to positively impact the world. It must ramp up a proactive stance in 2018. Educators must prepare and empower students to create a more peaceful society. Particularly by teaching them data triangulation in order to eliminate the existence of destructive players like "fake news." Students must be taught to recognize entrepreneurial opportunities and capitalize on them in order to make peace profitable. The only thing standing in the way of world peace is war profiteering.

The most visible shift we will see in education during 2018 and beyond is the domination of the millennial generation and the impact they will have. Millennials will increasingly become parents, school board members, administrators, policymakers, and teachers.

The current teacher shortage must also be sufficiently addressed in 2018. We cannot simply expect cash-strapped millennials who want to make a difference but are saddled with student debt to all of a sudden find fulfillment in education. Society continues to undervalue educators. We seem to have a national anti-intellectual movement that surely will not help make America great again. We have a loud voice in America that effectively screams, “If you take away our guns, you take away our freedom.” In 2018, I’d like to hear an even louder voice scream, “If you take away our public education, you take away our freedom.”


I believe in Millennials, and believe the increasing impact they will have on education and society will be positive overall. Their proclivity for entrepreneurship and desire to have a positive and meaningful impact on the world will yield great results if the rest of us do one of two things: support their initiatives or simply get out of their way.

Happy New Year!

What are the human transactions of the future?

I am really looking forward to keynoting the All Ohio Counselors Conference next week—a combined audience of career and mental health counselors, helping our youth navigate an increasingly complicated world.

The impact of Artificial Intelligence and technology on the job market is going to change the careers available to graduates and transform the way we interact. With a predicted 38% of today's jobs being automated in 10-15 years, we must consider that human exchanges revolving around goods and services may no longer be the norm.

What are the transactions of the future? I believe we will have a cultural economy—an exchange of cultural values and activities that form the basis of human interaction and the advancement of society. However, with globalization comes cultural dilution, and therein lies a conundrum that educators and counselors must address. Otherwise, we risk devolving into animal instincts and survivalist mentalities.

Combining the idealism of the Millennial generation with their size, which will be followed by the equally large and idealistic Gen Z, we now have the opportunity to naturally grow out of many of society's greatest injustices. However, that will require Baby Boomers to quietly hang onto their baggage and not unload it onto the Millennials. The generation that grew up with segregation being the norm must not inadvertently pollute the generation that grew up with Obama being the norm. If that happens, our noble efforts to extinguish implicit biases will only result in perpetuating them.

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A “Baby Boomer Baggage” Election

The votes are in, we have a new President-Elect, and the country is in a bit of a tailspin.  Whether or not one agrees with the result, polls show that baby-boomers gave Donald Trump the most powerful position in the world. Had the millennials come out in droves (less than half voted, representing 19% of the total vote), it is reasonable to assume the results would have been different.  This was a strategic miscalculation—or lack of calculation—on the part of the world’s largest generation, because their disaffection toward both candidates and the election itself produced a result that has many protesting in the streets (much like Brexit).

Instead of making their voices heard, the millennials let the baby boomers cast votes while looking in the rear view mirror.  “Make America Great Again” is a powerful slogan, but many policies surrounding it are regressive.  Much of what made America great before does not have the same relevance today.  Most jobs are not going to come back, and those that do are likely not ones that deliver a return on the education investment millennials have made…plus, those jobs will soon anyway be outsourced to technology and artificial intelligence.  Moreover, building walls are not consistent with the millennials’ desire to build bridges, and religious resurgence is unlikely to be embraced by the most secular generation we’ve ever seen.  And as far as education policy goes, what policy?  We have heard the least about this—the true engine behind making America great again.

By nature, the older we get, the more we find comfort in nostalgia and the more we fear change.  However, nostalgia is not something you learn; like wisdom, it is something you earn.  But that is about the only thing nostalgia and wisdom have in common.

The Future of Education

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.

The Millennial Conundrum

Millennials live in a dichotomy.  Much of what they desire is the consequence of what they were not given, and this places their interests in disharmony with their strengths.  Surveys report that music is the millennial generation’s number one priority, yet they have witnessed the arts being devalued in public education throughout their entire lives.  Broken promises of employment and job security makes them crave entrepreneurship while standardized testing and government mandated curriculum have arguably educated them out of creativity.  Millennials want to change the world but have grown up in a society where corruption (government, wall street, and charity) has produced a high number of disaffected youth.

Do millennials feel entitled to succeed?  Certainly.  Many have been told since pre-school that they are on a track to Harvard.  Moreover, “earning” ribbons and trophies simply for participation has removed possible failure from the equation, negating the value of taking risks.

Ultimately, millennials want to be defined by their passions, not their careers.  “Who you are” as opposed to “what you do” is paramount.  However, they have been kept so preoccupied by helicopter parents needing to procure the family brand that most millennials have never been bored enough to discover their true passion in the first place.