It’s not an ambition problem, an intellectual problem, or an ability problem. Those are merely the symptoms.
I want to be clear in getting my message across that it’s an education problem that students face more than anything else. All the problems of ambition, of motivation, having a hunger for knowledge and learning, it all roots from a poor education system. The education is alright on its own, but only if you want to learn the wrong things.
The Wrong Education Causes The Right Problem
It’s the right problem only because it’s a problem we can fix. In general terms we can identify, what the symptoms are, what the cause is, and what the solution can be.
Training students to be sheep in society will only works if you want to be a sheep. That may sound obvious, but there’s a difference between wanting them to be sheep and always getting sheep. Because that sort of system doesn’t produce guaranteed results. You get 70-80% of students who go through an graduate sure, but you also get the smaller group that simply get too depressed and de-motivated by that sort of structure and environment that they do poorly in school and even drop out. It’s the “Your customers are already talking about you” of social media applied to education. The traditional methods are already not working, the schools just don’t have the ability to see it because their metrics and benchmarks measure against the same fundamental structures.
I think a lot more students have already accepted that without realizing. There’s a very clear distinction between the students on that idea. From all my experience meeting people while at university, the students are either content and happy with their education or see it as a joke. There is no middle ground on that.
If you have your head anywhere but not in the sand you can hear all the talk about the new ways that organizations will need to really provide value and service to their customers. This is true regardless of what company you are I’d say. But when you take a look at the course that universities are setting students on, the difference is clear. Examples of this mis-match are clear time and time again.
Leadership And Culture
When you talk about getting young people active and engaged, think about the challenge it is to convert an old-fashioned hierarchical organization to one that is more transparent and open. Changing big organizations is a challenge because of culture and leadership. Now I think we can safely say that the real engaged young people are already a set of self-selecting leaders, so if this is true we can clearly identify culture as being what needs to change.
I’ve watched this video 3 times so far, hopefully more people will see it for the first time:
On a side note it may be a communications problem as well, because most university students can’t write or communicate for the life of them.
Image via Wikipedia