When I was growing up, my parents encouraged me to find a subject in which I was really interested. If I did that I could major in that subject in college. With a degree in that subject I could become a teacher. I could look forward to a career immersed in a topic I really liked.
Does that sound familiar.
Looking back from the perspective of 50 years of experience I can see a few issues with that advice. They are serious enough I try hard to keep my mouth shut when tempted to tell young people what they “SHOULD” do to have a happy, successful life.
The most serious problem I had with it was there were SO MANY interesting topics. It takes time to become an expert in a discipline. Clearly I would not live long enough to really explore all my interests. The older I get the more frustrating that gets. Its like attending the worlds biggest smorgasboard just after having gastric bypass surgery. There is no way I can enjoy more than a tiny sample of what is available.
My parents were in their early twenties duing the Great Depression. To them, a stable, well paid job was the Holy Grail. Teaching fit the bill quite nicely. If the pay wasn’t that impressive you got summers off. No one ever got fired. The paychecks never bounced. You didn’t have to get dirty & sweaty in the fields. In the small, rural community where I grew up there was even some social status associated with the job.
Fifty years later I find myself looking at the educational establishment thinking how ripe it is for massive disruption. Lots of people are going to find themselves looking for a new carreer. They won’t understand how something which seemed so stable could have vanished so quickly.
I remember when word processors began to replace typewriters. The secretaries could all type really well. Their bosses, the ones getting the new word processors ($12,000 for a good Wang system), couldn’t type. Pretty funny looking back. I knew several secretaries who were praying they could retire before they were forced to deal with the new systems. The fear was profound.
These days the secretaries, if they are still around, mostly don’t type even on a word processor. The managers & engineers do all their own typing. Of course many still use two fingers, but with the amount of work done on smart phones maybe two finger typing is a more valuable skill than touch typing on a standard keyboard Or perhaps we are all missing the boat. My grandson is happy talking to his computer!
Does anyone expect their current education to last their career lifetime?
I think we are all in the Lifelong Learning Club. Even if I spent a third of my time learning about new software services, new organizational tools, or other things with which to make my writing and website building go faster, I couldn’t keep up. I find myself constantly narrowing my focus in those areas where I want/need to maintain cutting edge awareness.
At the same time I do not want to suck the joy out of learning. That is the problem with so much of the existing education paradign. It isn’t fun. Its not fun for the students. Its not fun for the teachers.
Discovery Learning can change that!
Anyone with access to the internet is in a position to make lifelong learning fun. Pick a subject. Any subject. Choose something that you know nothing about but which sounds interesting. I found Crank Bait. It was great fun. Did I need to know any of that information? No. Did I have an hours entertainment researching it? Yes. Did I polish my online research skills? Yes. Will using a silly topic like Crank Bait make learning to use LeadPages to build a one page website more fun? Yes.
The Wizard of Ads says we don’t need rest when we are sick & tired our regular work. We need to “Look out a different window for a while.”