The entrepreneurial opportunity for education
Nick Binedell, founding director of the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS), and Sameer Rawjee, former director and founder of The Life Design Lab at Google Dublin and founder of Life Design at Work and the O School, have a philosophical discussion on the future of education.
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In this engaging conversation, Nick and Sameer speak about change, a parent’s role in designing ongoing education, action learning, relevancy, reflection and the importance of asking ‘why’.They do this in a South African context of South Africa and discuss the opportunity for entrepreneurs to play outside of the current education paradigm.
“Education system hasn’t changed in 100 years”
“People just go to school because that's what they're told to do,” says Nick, who believes that in the future "people will be more thoughtful about why they're learning." Sameer agrees: "People will be more thoughtful about why they're learning".While technology has made a difference, Nick believes the educational system is the same as it was 100 years ago – “very hierarchical” and “bureaucratic.”
Unschooling and the action learning trend
Sameer forecasts a “massive unschooling movement” that is starting in the US where “parents are starting to realise they need to play a role in designing their child's education”.He points to a programme being run by Standford University, Standford 2025 that is looking at registering students for missions rather than majors with the idea being how can you combine disciplines to solve a problem. At GIBS, this approach is referred to as "action learning". “You start with a problem and find out what you need to learn to deal with the problem,” explains Nick.
Watch video: The opportunity for education
Jump to the sections you're most interested in by scrolling to the time codes provided below
00:08 Through the lens of an educator, what does the future hold for kids (and parents) of today?
06:52 What does this mean for kids being educated now - particularly in South Africa?
10:12 If you could go back and study one thing, what would it be?
14:02 If you were an entrepreneur interested in the education space, where you would you say some key opportunities lie?
Whatever you're learning in school right now is going to be hardly relevant by the time you start working.
We need more "imagineers"
Even though education is struggling to keep up with the pace of change, Nick and Sameer believe there’s still a need to retain the classics, like maths, language, and science. While understanding history and how systems work is still integral to education, action learning is just another layer, “teaching you ‘why’, how to prototype, how to apply the learning”, says Sameer. What’s required to future-proof humans is a “mix between rationality and imagination”, says Nick. “We need imagineers - people with great creativity who also understand the practicalities.”
"We all need to be artists, philosophers, and scientists at the same time, but with our own specialisation" - Sameer Rawjee
To help children achieve this, Nick says that parents must understand that it’s critical that children have “certain experiences and build certain attitudes” with education providing them with the knowledge. Parents need to help their children find this balance. “It's this blend between the left and the right brain, the rational and the intuitive, most great innovators need that balance”, explains Nick.
Opportunities in education
"The rate of change will be so fast in the next couple of decades that you can’t stop learning when you finish university," says Nick, citing the need for “continuous learning” for adults. Sameer points to “immersive learning" as another opportunity for entrepreneurs. It’s no longer enough for students at a coding school, for example, to be taught by coders or academics, but rather by an engineer in a tech company. While business schools bring in external experts all the time to teach real-world application, schools don’t do this.
The classroom of the future
Summing up the requirements for the schools of the future, Nick highlighted the importance of children learning:
- Attitudinal formation - values, beliefs, and points of view in addition to relational, experiential learning which develops skills.
- New skills – children should be taught new skills like e-gaming and coding which they won’t get in a classroom. The youth needs to be exposed to a broader set of experiences and social interactions in order to get the skills required for the new world.
- Structural studying – learning the foundations through traditional subjects like maths, science and the languages.
Over the last 100 years, we've been a society of knowledge acquirers; we've stopped creating knowledge.