Monday, March 28, 2011

Educational Arsonists?

Wanted to make sure my bleeps were checking in on the following conversation on the needs for technical disciplines vs. liberal arts as they impact innovation and job creation: Engineering vs. Liberal Arts- Who's right Bill or Steve? and What Bill Gates Could Learn from Chris Rock

For those who like the sound of "educational arsonist" but aren't sure what I am talking about, click here.

I like the debate... a few observations (as an educational arsonist):

1) I think that "both" is best, but unusual in one person, and that is why entrepreneurship is such a great team sport.

2) It would be nice to recognize that "college/degree" is an early chapter in an evolving narrative, not the conclusion. Lots can happen post-university, thankfully. We are not bound by the decisions we make as 17 year olds.**

3) Perhaps some data-cruncher will establish the correlation between job creation and the degrees that a society's educational institutions grant. Until then, I am skeptical of any claim that granting more of any type of degree will create more jobs. That doesn't mean politicians won't still claim a tight relationship, but I think they confuse jobs with votes sometimes. How about letting go of the value judgements of which degrees are better?

4) Let's remember that a lot of education happens outside of classrooms and schools. Which is fine. Probably a better evolutionary swamp for disruptive innovation. Maybe "publish or perish" will become "adapt or perish" or maybe not. Universities are certainly one of society's longer lived institutions, and certainly not one of it's bigger sources of disruptive innovation.***
*Thanks Nathaneal, for sharing the link with me on facebook earlier today.
**Disclosure: I settled on Political Science over Biology after conferring with my advisor junior year and checking my finances. I would graduate sooner and I thought I had hit the point of diminishing returns for college.
***For fun, substitute "reactive" for "innovative" in speeches on the topic of university innovation and entrepreneurship.