It’s another day at work and I got an unusual yet a common question thrown my way.
“WHEN DO YOU KNOW YOU HAVE STUDIED ENOUGH?
When do we know that the education will not help me anymore?”
I wish someone had recorded my expressions at the moment because I was seriously stumped. Here I am in the business of selling Education and mostly encouraging children to study, study well or study more depending on which stage they are at. To say that I did not have an answer would be an understatement.
What I said to this 16 year old and what I really wanted to say to him were not the same. What I wanted to say to him, as a parent, would not come as a surprise to most parents who are reading this.
Let me give you both the sides and you could perhaps decide for yourself, which route you would take if YOU are ever in my position.
First and foremost, when I call this unusual and yet common, I am not putting forth an oxymoronic statement. It was unusual because I was just not expecting a 16 year old to ask me this, after all you are 16, and I wanted to say – GO STUDY. Yet it is perhaps the most common thought that the 16 year olds have today – What is after all the importance of these studies? Our education system is perhaps the one industry that is not KEEPING UP with the super fast train of the future. I do not therefore blame the children for harbouring these thoughts. Yet it is important for us to steer them in the seemingly right direction.
As a parent I just wanted to stop him right there and tell him that there is no SUBSTITUTING EDUCATION. No matter what you think, there are NO SHORT CUTS. More importantly I wanted him to acknowledge my authority as a parent and not argue with me about it, respect my wisdom and believe me because what I say is based out of my numerous experiences. I have seen the WORLD after all.
Well I admit this was my first reaction, and he looked at me, almost as if he was challenging me to come up with these arguments. But I did NOT fall into the TRAP.
He, however, fell into MY TRAP!!
I asked him to convince me that education was indeed going to be useless. He enthusiastically set out on this task.
His very convincing and appropriate arguments:
“I want to become a DESIGN ENGINEER FOR GAMING which is my passion, which no school is teaching. I am already learning the coding language called #%$###$%^ (I did not even understand). I am pursuing a University level course in AI (artificial intelligence – again a grey area for me). Most importantly in school I am wasting time studying subjects that are meaningless for me. They have no impact on my future.
To become someone important in this field I need to come up with something groundbreaking, not study what is being taught, after all that is PAST ITS SALE now( He used so many technical terms that it felt like I was in a conversation with someone at ISRO or NASA).
Did you know that the job we will eventually do in our future do not even exist today, so the PRESENT school and college will not prepare me for them!
(The final blow)Did you know Bill Gates and a million other Tech Guru never went to college!!”
Again – Sounds Familiar???
It was MY TURN!
I got my chance to get THIS GENERATION to listen to me, and I was not going to blow it.
Here is a synopsis:
“Even if I were to agree with you that the present education in school is not preparing you for your future Jobs, it is preparing you for the FUTURE. Schools and university have one very important role to play in your life – that is to prepare you for LIFE. Education while important is but one aspect of it. Interaction with peers, dealing with situations and even facing failures which together form the education that you need to participate in.
The formulas and the technology that you will study here will probably become obsolete, I agree, and yet it is like increasing the number of safety nets. You don’t know when you may fall and which of these nets will come to your rescue.
The classmates are also going to be your competition tomorrow. A good business person always take stock of competition, think of this time as that. Value your competition and also value your accomplices. Each would be equally important in the future. Would you begin a venture before analysing competition?
Dropping out of school will take away a few things. It will steal away the memories that you will cherish for the rest of your life. It will take away the one chance that you will get to form lasting friendships. Are you willing to take it? Think of them as a cultural exchange programme. Learn from everyone around you. If you think the education is not what you need, GET EDUCATED about other things – INTERACT, OBSERVE, PROCESS.
The most important aspect, unfortunately, the world has certain expectations. You will have to live up to that just to ensure that someone LESS CAPABLE than you does not steal the job from right under your nose. He would have a degree that employers can identify with and you DO NOT. That might give them a CHANCE and you may not get any. Do you want to take that chance?
Even in the SHARK TANK the children participants get a deal only if they promise to continue their school/college or the deal is off. These billionaires must know what they are talking about!!
Btw –Bill Gates definitely dropped out – but he dropped out of HARVARD – He scored 1590 out of 1600 on the Scholastic Aptitude Tests (SAT) – he had first reached the pinnacle before taking the plunge!!
Mark Zuckerberg – Harvard – developed Facebook while he was there.
So Reach Harvard first!!”
That was my final SET GAME & MATCH!