Every 12 seconds, a student in the United States drops out of school. What’s more alarming is that 12.6% of 1.3 million college graduates are unemployed. It’s no wonder some of the greatest thought leaders of our time are demanding an education reform. 

But first, we need to understand the shortcomings of our current education system. Traditional education moves in a linear path. We were told that if we get good grades in school, get a degree, we would get a job. However, this type of philosophy was conceived during the Industrial Revolution when the economic imperative at the time was that we needed assembly-line workers. Today, it becomes the ultimate filter bubble for our generation. 

What we didn’t know back then is that the various regions of our brain develop at different rates in different people, meaning there are hundreds or even thousands of ways of how we learn. So why do we still educate our children in classrooms and ship them out into the workforce in batches?

What I am trying to say here isn’t to reform our current education system; traditional education has its advantages - for specific types of people. What I am proposing instead is that we should support more choices in education. Instead of telling our children that they have to go to a university and get a degree, why not try to understand how they learn first and provide them with the best type of education that is going to maximize their potential? This change in paradigm will help us democratize learning and offer education that is far more open and free than ever before. 

This is why I admire the work of Geoff Mulgan, who came up with the idea of Studio Schools. Studio schools are a type of secondary school in England that are designed to provide students with practical real-life work experience as well as traditional academic and vocational courses of study. After two years of experimenting with studio schools, Geoff found those who performed poorly in a traditional academic setting excelled in studio schools, placing themselves in the top decile. 

“You work by learning and you learn by working.” — Geoff Mulgan

With the rise of open and progressive education models like Studio Schools, Khan Academy, Singularity University, General Assembly, Launch Academy, developer bootcamps, specialized schools, or even accelerators and incubators, the future of education is certainly moving towards the right direction. But the biggest question we should ask ourselves is, “Should we absorb whatever happens to be the prevailing dogma of our time or take a leap and support alternative education to better prepare the next generation for the future?”


This post was originally published on Medium.


Alex Chuang is the managing director at Launch Academy, a co-founder of WeeveIt, the Vancouver ambassador for Sandbox and creator of Emberyl.

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