Sued51's Blog











{February 1, 2011}   The Future of Education — Reading, Writing, and…Marketing?

Plenty of stories have been written about the state of education in the United States today, about how our students are woefully lacking in knowledge about geography and history, for example.  Despite the famous quote by Edmund Burke,  “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it,” one could make a case that to succeed in today’s world, different skills are required such as technology (computer) skills (which includes the use of social media) and the most important of all — marketing.

Go ahead…do a search for webinars, podcasts and articles about how to use social media to market yourself and/or your business or how to “brand” yourself, and there will be thousands of “hits” to choose from.  It seems this will be a long-term change in necessary “life” skills, not a temporary one.  The use of social media will only become more sophisticated, and unless our youth go back to learning trades (plumbing, electrical, hairdressing), or get their education in the medical and science fields, they will need to be marketing experts in order to make the money to survive.  

My guess is that the new liberal arts education will be marketing-based.  Why not start them in grammar school?  There are plenty of children under 18 on Facebook (even though they are not supposed to be), and many parents are providing their children with cell phones for their protection.  As a result, children are learning how to use their cell phones for much more than verbally speaking to someone;  teachers aren’t busy chasing football-shaped notes in class anymore.

It would truly be helpful for children to learn multiple languages (meaning Spanish or Chinese) at a young age to compete in the global economy, but that’s not the direction in which we are moving.  I know a lot of people say forget diagramming sentences, but what the children are learning is slang and “internet” language and how to send efficient “texts”.  No need to write essays on what they did on summer vacation…they can learn to “tweet” and everyone will know what they did every day.  By the time they are teenagers, they will be accomplished digital photographers and have their “brand” set.  They will be mini-entrepreneurs, not children.

You can probably tell from my tone that I don’t like it, but it seems inevitable.  I do wonder, however, if everyone understands marketing techniques, how will they work?  Why would anyone fall for it?  If everyone is spending all their time and energy on creating their brand and trying to get attention, who will their audience be?

I saw an interview that Piers Morgan did with the Kardashian sisters wherein he asked them, “what is your talent?”  And what did Kim answer?  Marketing.

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I guess the worries about the nature of education are universal, and pretty much unchanging. On the whole, syllabuses are designed to provide the working classes with the knowledge to make them suitable cannon fodder for the industry of the day.

In the UK, it’s a given that you will at least get a grounding in French (our nearest “foreign” speakers), and many get lessons in German, Spanish or Italian. Some schools include Mandarin in the syllabus. In Wales, many schools are bilingual, as are some schools in the Highlands and Islands.

But history and geography have taken a back seat of late in favour of technology.

If you have a rebellious edge, and/or enough imagination, you can step away from the conveyer belt and strive for something different.

It’s up to parents to nurture a child’s differentness so they can succeed. But sadly too many had their will to be different worn down years before. Sadly, some never had it in the first place.

And that’s before you factor in the devisiveness of private education and the damage it does to opportunities for the truly talented.

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sued51 says:

Lynne,
It always frustrated me that in the US when I was growing up, we didn’t have the option of learning another language until we were 13 or 14 (Jr High), and even then, the ones we could choose were limited. The best time for children to learn other languages is when they are very young, when they can actually be fluent in several languages.
I work my part-time job with young people who are very creative and I see their education as discouraging to them for the most part.

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