A growing number of college students are approaching the end of their college careers and are worried about finding a job.

One reason is academic inflation. Like the U.S. dollar, the value of a college degree has dramatically decreased. If you want to be assured a job, you need a master’s degree.

The primary reason college students cannot find work is because class alone does not adequately prepare students for employment, excluding positions in academia. School is an assembly line designed to manufacture obedient workers for a system of salaried pay–a notion which worked a century ago, but times have changed.

Dan Pink, author of several books about the changing world of work, predicts that the most valuable resource in the next century will be creativity.

Mathematical, logic-heavy, linear thinkers have thrived in the age of information. However, occupations that favor these traits are quickly being eliminated because of competition from overseas and computers.

The coming century, what Pink calls the conceptual age, will reward those who are creators, pattern-recognizers and big-picture thinkers.

Sir Ken Robinson, a creativity in education expert, points out that intelligence is not linear, but dynamic. If a child loves to paint or play music, they are put on the assembly line and are forced to study math and science.

Adderall has done a fantastic job of assisting today’s students work their way onto the assembly line.

The psychostimulant allows an individual to concentrate and absorb information by increasing focus, while blocking hunger, thirst and fatigue.

The Auburn Plainsman took a poll last fall that showed 45 percent of the participants had taken some form of the drug.

The presence of Adderall on college campuses should raise a red flag to universities that there is something bigger at play here.

Is it possible that we need to rethink education?

If we continue along our current path, we may soon approach something similar to the Fordistic society in Aldous Huxley’s “A Brave New World,” where conformity and the process of assembly create the fabric of society.

However, if we can begin to change the way we think about education, then the pillars of education will involve self-direction and the embrace of technology.

Self-direction must play a bigger part in our system of education. People should be allowed to pursue their own interests, whether it be painting or dance or biochemistry. Once again, without genuine interest, learning cannot happen.

Robinson takes an interesting viewpoint: education as an agricultural process as opposed to a manufacturing one. Like a plant, we must create the right conditions for individuals to thrive, but not interfere with how they grow.

When students and teachers think about technology in education today, they think of smart-boards, Powerpoints and projectors. We need to look at the way we use technology.

After all, Powerpoints are just glorified chalk boards. The true power of technology lies in the ease of retrieving information.

When people are interested in a subject and want to learn they have the knowledge of the entire planet at their fingertips. At no point in history has mankind had such a valuable resource.

If you are a professor, I ask that you take a moment and think about how you teach. Learning cannot happen without interest.


This column was originally published in The Auburn Plainsman on 10/7/2010.

Posted by:Sam Solomon

I'm a designer, writer and tinkerer. I currently lead workflow and design systems at Salesloft.

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