Next week the Team from StartUp Canada come to PEI for a week to host a conversation with Islanders about how we can make the shift from relying on jobs to relying on ourselves.
We will be talking about barriers and opportunities. In advance of our discussions, I would like to offer my thoughts on what I think is the greatest barrier.
I think it is how school works.
For school is designed to produce compliant workers and managers not entrepreneurs.
Skills - Other than music or sport, is there any useful skill that your kids have acquired at school? They cannot fix anything, cook a meal, balance a bank account. They can't make anything. Design anything. Approach a complex problem. They don't know how to work in teams. They are spoon fed all the time and have no experience in taking charge.
Worse, anything to do with the web is off limits. Anything they learn here, they learn out of school. If they do learn anything practical, they learn it outside of school.
Citizenship and Leadership - Do they have any responsibility for running the school? Do they have a leadership role? Do they have a role in discipline? Do they have to do anything for the school? Do they have a say in how the school is run? Do they have a say in what they are taught or how?
Do they have to take any personal risk?
Academic and communication skills - Professors I know who teach first year university are appalled at the academic skills of most of the students and these are the elite! Few can write a sentence. Few know how to construct a case. Most are numerically illiterate. Most don't know how to study or to research as they have all been spoon fed for the test.
The writing they are taught is not the kind of writing that any of us need to communicate. We all have to relearn how to write and to communicate after we leave school. No one will read an academic styled paper in the world outside of school.
No one is taught how to communicate by using influence either. All they have received is the sage on the stage - a process that does not work in society.
Love of Learning - Most think that they can only learn with a teacher and a course. They have been trained to be passive learners. Learning has been pushed at students. Most have no idea of what it is like to have charge of what they learn. Those that do have learned this love outside of school.
The new world demands that we all have to learn lots of new things all the time. There is no Training Department in the real world. You learn by yourself or sink.
Critical Thinking - The status quo is the wrong way ahead in every part of work life. It may be the wrong way in all parts of life. It is imperative to think critically today.
Our entire system from Grade 1 - to graduation of for a BA is based on spouting the party line. Kids have been told not to challenge the status quo. They will lose marks for that and be seen as trouble makers.
So what to do? I don't see us being able to reform the system. There is too much inertia and reputational lock in. There is no time.
I think that we in the start up world can start to offer our kids an alternative.
We can fill the after school world with another kind of experience. We can "adopt" kids. After all it was normal for boys of 8 to join the navy. As parents, we can see that we cannot afford to give up all of our child's education to the school. We have to do our bit or seek out alternatives.
We don't need newspapers to get our news. We don't need a TV network to watch what we want or to make our videos. We must not rely on only school to educate our kids.
We have to take charge of this ourselves. For the jobs are not coming. But the work is.