by David Houle
Since the beginning of the Transformation Decade in 2010, I have been saying that education at all levels will undergo transformation by 2020. The book I wrote with Jeff Cobb, Shift Ed: A Call to Action for Transforming K-12, published in early 2011, called for nothing less than transformation. Reform is an outdated word and is now not enough to make the necessary changes in American education.
Last week I wrote a guest column for CNN.com titled “Predictions for the Next Decade of Education”. It provoked a number of responses to my inbox and many on-line as well. The first thing that struck me about the comments is how emotional many of the responses were. There was a lot of passion and a lot of anger, and both strong pro-technology and strong anti-technology comments. People think that they know the answer and everyone else doesn’t. A teacher assumed that since I wasn’t one as well, my ideas should be questioned. Well, to write Shift Ed and now a mini-eBook “Education” which is a part of my new book Entering the Shift Age, I not only spoke to many teachers, principals and superintendents, I have delivered speeches to and interacted with thousands of them across the country.
In addition to the rants and to some well-presented comments and emails, there were surprisingly different responses. One in particular is worth mentioning. A Boston University student sent me a link to a spoof video he and friends, some new graduates, did about how having a college degree means nothing in this depressed economy. They parodied and used a song from Les Miserables. The video is brilliant as it deals with what is a major problem and reality today. Students who went to college thinking it the first step toward the American Dream are now living a debt-burdened nightmare of underemployment.
A Millennial who graduated from college since 2009 has basically entered into the worst employment market since the Great Depression. As I have said to Baby Boomers across America who think the Millennials are entitled: Uh, this great recession or global financial meltdown was largely due to Baby Boomers, so why should they show respect if this is what you have wrought? Think of the ages of all those bankers or CEOs of financial institutions that have been in the news these past five years. Are there any Millennials among them?
(To get a deeper view on the coming generational shift, feel free to take a look at The Shift Age Generations mini-eBook.)
Part of the unfortunate reality that Millennials like the BU students are facing is due to the simple fact that Higher Education is the next “bubble”. First, there was the “Tech Bubble”, then the “Real Estate Bubble”. Now it is the “Higher Ed bubble”.
Unprecedented student debt and college and university costs have increased almost 400% more than inflation and 200% more than health care this century, within old, tradition-bound institutions that are too bureaucratic and inefficient.
As I wrote in the Future of Education mini-eBook when describing higher education: ‘The economics are unsustainable, the outcomes are questionable, and the insularity and inefficiencies intolerable. Higher education will undergo transformation between now and 2020. The 500-year-old university model will change more in the next ten years than it has in the last 100.”
The death of legacy thinking and widespread creative destruction is now at hand for all levels of education.