Monday, September 18, 2017

There should be no distinction between life and learning

We have a wealth of assets to bring to the education system into modernity; we have trillions of dollars’ worth of latent human capital in the form of idled and undereducated people and a mass natural resources on which to draw to move British Columbia to the next phase of its development as a leader in the knowledge economy. It is shameful and a waste to have so many of our people constrained from their potential by stagnated societal apparatus, outmoded education systems and poor capitalisation programs. Be clear on this point, the West's place in the world is threatened - it is threatened not by the absence of resources, not by our human capacity, not by the absence of ambition - it is threatened by institutional inertia, monolithic institutional structures and apathy. In order to draw on latent human capital and to close the applied technology gap, we must increase the velocity of knowledge transfer. This requires that we redesign the way we transfer knowledge and distribute credentials.

If Canada was faced with another world war, the most fierce competition humanity knows and someone suggested we take our most able and intelligent people and lock them all in a room for eight years - most would agree this would qualify as a stupid suggestion. Canada - British Columbia is in a new type of competition where we need our young people most of all, and we are locking them in education facilities for longer and longer periods of time. At university, they are TAUGHT what we think they need to know. In the world of innovation, the world that applies technology, the world that makes an idea work, they LEARN what they need to know.

The application of new knowledge or the creation of solutions emerges most effectively organically, the farmer that rigs an app for his iPhone that remotely controls his tractor - etcetera. We need specialized knowledge certainly, the challenge with what has emerged in BC and the country generally, is the complex of education and regulation has fragmented the elements of innovation - we have specialized and regulated organic innovation out of existence. By way of example, if a group of young people built an innovative car in their backyard and set about the task of building more and selling them, absent having had the requisite licenced personnel on board the regulatory complex would obstruct their progress – the fact the car is built and passed requisite objective inspection should be qualification enough. The education system can provide a forum by which to absorb and enhance this type of participation. 

We need to grant credentials from actions in concert with knowledge acquisition, credentials should flow from knowledge and its application, rather than time spent in a building. In concert with reconfiguring the education system itself and redefining what "credentials" are, we need to turn our colleges and universities into hothouses where applied science, knowledge, capital merge to generate real outcomes. Beyond the present co-opt programs to hothousing enterprise onsite or interfacing with the enterprise in some other venue.  With the aggressive merging of education and enterprise - creative capitalization programs can be developed augment returns and attract capital. Innovation is a heuristics game – if we want to garner the benefit of innovations we need to do a better job of accommodating failure and augmenting capital reward will help support the rigours of innovation.

As the world's knowledge expands at a greater and greater pace and that knowledge needs to be applied, we need an adroit response to knowledge transfer requirements. We need faster credentials and to reconfigure what a credential is.  The present modalities of structured institutional based learning are very cumbersome and tend to trap human capital in a fruitless environment for extended periods of time. This is in no way intended to negate the value of the existing process, but rather to suggest augmentation of existing process & reconfiguration to include a "real world" adjunct. We can do this, we must do this – we have the resources to do this. 

Please notify me if you have suggestions or direction - thank you.

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