HOW DO YOU MEASURE YOUR EDUCATION?
At what point in one’s life does one need to measure the quality of one’s education? Is it on graduation day when you get your certificate or after your NYSC when you face the labour market? Is it at, say age twenty-five, when you start working or at, say age sixty-five, when the retirement door is closed against you? Did the education you got from school adequately prepare you for the myriad of problems you are facing today? And how can you know whether or not this education is both valid and relevant for the future that lay ahead of you and the challenges that it holds?
The Rules Have Changed
In the Industrial Age, the rules were: go to school, get good grades, find a safe, secure job with benefits (preferably in an oil company), climb the corporate ladder, retire with a great pension and live happily ever after. You usually did not need any additional education to succeed simply because things did not change that fast. The education you got in school was all you needed for your lifetime. And you need not care about investing for the future because the government or company you worked for was totally responsible for your retirement benefit. The pension plan as at then was called Defined Benefit. Back then working for a company was like being part of a family. Like belonging to a tribe. You didn’t leave the tribe because the tribe took care of its people. In the Information Age of today, however, the scenario is different. Things are changing faster than you can snap your fingers. Thus, the rules have changed. What you learnt in school is not as important as how quickly you can learn new things. The new rules are now: go to school, get good grades, find a job, and then retrain yourself for that job. Find a new company and a new job and retrain. Find a new company and a new job and retrain. Today, many employees repeatedly find themselves in need of additional education and training in order to satisfy the current job requirements in the labour market. Coupled with that, your retirement benefit is your business. The pension plan of today is called Defined Contribution. In other words, what you get at the end of your working years is determined by what you have contributed. With such a plan, you can only hope you have enough money set aside to last you much longer than age sixty-five and also pray that the pension fund managers better know what they are doing with your money and that’s if you are ‘fortunate’ enough to keep the job till you are sixty five!
Today’s job market demands that you juggle the job of two (or even more) persons for the same amount of pay, you are constantly under pressure to meet deadlines and/or increase bottom-line, your salary is cut without caution and don’t even mention perks or pay raise! More often than not, the system is designed to serve the shareholders, the owners of the companies and those in government. Again I ask, did your education prepare you for these stark realities? For most people, all they just do is grumble and complain. They don’t have the audacity to leave the organization. And so they become what I call organizational cancer.
Smell the Coffee
The NYSC camp has just reopened and thousands of graduates have been mobilised into the scheme. As these hopeful graduates complete their NYSC and get ready to enter the labour market, however, many will be awakened to the realization that they have not been adequately educated for the new world they face. On the other side of the divide, thousands of retirees are waking up to the shocking fact that they are not sufficiently prepared for the harsh realities of the world that awaits them after retirement. With the current economic situation of the country, many “well-educated” people are facing the same economic difficulties that the less educated are facing. Unfortunately, most of them don’t smell the coffee until it’s too late.
A test of Education
A study conducted by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare in the United States of America reveals that of every one hundred people at age sixty-five, one is rich, four are comfortable, five are still working, fifty-six need government or family support, and the rest are dead. Perhaps you may say that’s the US but I will wager that if the situation can be this alarming in the supposedly richest country in the world, the results will be even more dire if that same survey were to be done in Nigeria. You may also say you are not really interested in being the one rich person but if you are still alive at age sixty-five, I can bet you don’t want to be among the five that are still working to make ends meet or the fifty-six that can no longer work and, therefore, need to be supported. And that’s why I ask the question: what’s the quality of your education? And what are the parameters for measuring the validity and relevance of your education both for today and for the future? Most people never ask these questions. They just do as they were told, “go to school, graduate and look for a job”, only to be dazed by problems they never anticipated. On the other hand, there are those who try to measure their education by the name of the school they attended or their field of study or even the country in which they went to school? When such folks face difficulties, they usually think that someone or something else should be blamed. What they don’t realize is that the system is only testing their education.
As we approach the end of the first twenty years of the information age and move on to the next stage of information technology, many more jobs will become extinct and new ones will be created as new problems rise to the surface. These new jobs will require new set of skills, most of which are not taught in school because the school system is too slow, it cannot keep up with the fast changing market ecosystem. Therefore, to measure your education by the course you studied in school or the school you attended is not a smart thing to do. In order to help us answer the questions posed earlier, we need to define what education really is. The word education is derived from the Latin word educare meaning “to educe” or “to draw out”. Unfortunately for many of us, our memories of education in school are long, painful sessions of cramming little bits of information into our heads, memorizing them for the test or exam, taking the exam, and then forgetting what we had just learned. True education, however, is more about drawing out your genius, your intelligence than it is about cramming information into your head. Intelligence is a person’s ability to solve practical problems. It is your ability to take abstract ideas and turn them into solution blue-prints that can solve a problem. Your education is supposed to enable you bring out your intelligence. How you respond when you are faced with a problem or challenge is a measure of the quality of your education. We all have different types of intelligences. Harvard Professor of Psychology, Howard Gardner, identifies nine intelligences in his 1983 publication, Frames of Mind. Over thirty other intelligences have been unravelled since then. However, the education school offers is only meant to bring out one type of intelligence- scholastic intelligence, a combination of linguistic and logical intelligence as Gardner calls them. It is the ability to read, write and, probably, solve maths. This is the intelligence you need to pass your exams. Most people are not really wired for this intelligence but our school system demands it from everyone. True education is a process of drawing out all of your intelligences and it can be a life-long process. Unfortunately for most people, their education ends once they leave school. Scholastic intelligence is all you need to succeed as long as you remained within the academic system but once you step out of school and into the real corporate ecosystem, you will require more than that if you want to win.
At Mindware Consulting, we help people draw out the genius in them that they need to solve practical problems in today’s market space. Our mission is to develop people and organizations through leading-edge research, education and training for maximum productivity and the overall well being of society. We have a passion to equip people with the relevant skills they need to succeed in the real world of work.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. The aim is to help you increase your awareness about the world of work so that you can properly position yourself in the corporate ecosystem and have a healthy and productive work life. Many people have become victims of the system because they were not properly educated. Don’t let that happen to you. If you find this post interesting, I urge you to leave a comment below. And if you would like to get other related posts and continue your education, kindly like our Facebook page: https://web.facebook.com/mindwareconsult
To your awesomeness,
Chike Justice Onyekachukwu
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