Why do so many authors give advice to overcome education?

by Steve Wyckoff on February 22, 2010

I used to be surprised, I’m not anymore. It used to be noteworthy when I would read a book and the author would give some advice to help individuals overcome the effects of public education. Today I’m more surprised if I read a book and they don’t give advice to help individuals overcome the effects of public education.

Just recently I have read Linchpin by Seth Godin, Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port, Drive by Daniel Pink, and Inbound Marketing by Brian Halligan. In each of these books there is significant advice for the reader about how they might overcome the learning that they experienced in public school. And these are just a few of the recent examples.

One of the reasons I’m sure I see this a lot is because I read so many books that deal with how to be successful in the 21st century. And our schools have nothing to do with being successful in the 21st century. Our core curriculum has nothing to do with preparing students to be successful as adults. While there is some movement in our high schools to try to do a better job it’s the side dish, not the entrée. Their focus is much more on improving standardized test scores, and preparing kids to go to college. And even in those subjects that don’t do standardized testing, raising test scores is still their excuse for not changing education.

Our two-year post secondary education institutions, community colleges and technical colleges, are doing an excellent job of preparing their students for the real world. Unfortunately we lack emphasis in K-12 schools to prepare our kids to attend those post secondary institutions that prepare students for industry-standard certifications and associate degrees, that lead to high-paying, highly satisfying careers.

I was especially struck by Dan Pink’s description in Drive of the two kinds of work that exist today, the algorithmic and heuristic. Our schools focus almost entirely on preparing students to do algorithmic work, and almost completely ignore preparation for heuristic work. This, in spite of the fact that estimated 70% of all the new jobs being created involve heuristic work. So perhaps the advice that the authors give to overcome the effects of public schools is important and valuable. – Steve Wyckoff

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