Monday, 23 September 2013

From Generation Spent... To Generation Rent?

Dream Job!
If you're one of those lucky people and "you do what you love; and love what you do," have you ever stopped to wonder why it is that you love it?

If it's because you work in education, maybe its because of that teacher who was so passionate about the subject they taught, that their enthusiasm for the topic was infectious... and you just could not help but catch the bug! It was so infectious that his/her captivating lessons went viral and polluted the air with ideas and possibilities.

Or maybe your enthusiasm was hereditary as you saw your parents were clearly enthusiastic about what they worked as.

When my employer closed their Glasgow office 3 years ago, the day the announcement was made I set myself a new goal, which was to land my dream job something that looks set to become a reality in the not too distant future.

This got me to thinking "why is this my dream job?" What makes it so cool? Why do I get excited about education, technology and start ups or, more accurately, their organisational culture?

I think the answer to this lies in three simple words that pack a big punch;

Making a difference
When you hear Steve job's talking about the influence of his 4th Grade teacher;

"I’m 100% sure that if it hadn’t been for Mrs Hill in 4th grade and a few others, I would absolutely have ended up in jail. I could see those tendencies in myself to have a certain energy to do something wrong. When you’re young, a little bit of correction goes a long way"

Or Google's Jamie Casap talking about the opportunities that education provided him with - and is silver bullet that we need to save - or how dedicated teachers like the guys at Kipp and elsewhere achieve in helping kids out of the ghetto... whats not to get excited about?

It's education that changed the world for these people when they were growing up and they, in turn went on to change the world. As Casap says in his Ted Talk "How many of you were not on the internet today?" Was one of the first things that you did this morning to reach for your phone and see if there were any messages? When was the last time you went a day when you were not online?

So educators and technologists GET STUFF DONE! However the very best educators and technologists who get stuff done do so by paying close attention to the culture they establish.

That's the reasons I think that I do what I do... and why I love doing it! I get to hang out with people who change the world - educators and techies.

The Stuff of Nightmares
It's perhaps also due to this same criteria that I there are two groups who I am not their #1 fan.

Over the last few years there have been two groups of people who have changed the world in a very different kind of way - to make it a nightmare place for many - the political class and the financial industry.

Like many bloggers I have wanted to "Let loose" and vent my frustration at the actions of these groups and had to remind myself that "If I've nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all," (and assure you there is relevance by raising this in today's post).

These two industries highlight the power that culture has on individuals. I know a number of politicians, and there is no doubt that they are intelligent, hard working and caring people. But put anyone into a culture of "Well everyone else is doing it" and they do things they would not otherwise have done, as the extent of the expenses scandal highlighted.

Would the CEO of a bank go down to the local pub and approve a loan of a local drug dealer? No, of course they wouldn't. 

But put them into an organisation with the kind of culture as depicted in Michael Douglas' "Wall Street," or the soon to be released update on the "greed is good" tale via Scorcese's film "The Wolf of Wall Street" and the  "Anything- goes-as-long-as-you-don't-get-caught" culture, and they do things they might not otherwise have done... and blame the culture

Add to this the fact that these two groups recent decisions have caused a great deal of suffering while they don't actually produce anything, you can perhaps see why I'm not their #1 fan. 

What would you rather have in your pocket - the latest iphone/android phone... or the latest political manifesto?  

If there is ever a "Lets-transfer-bankers-bonuses-to-educators" petition please, please let me know, I'd be happy to be the first to sign up!

Laughing all the way to the bank?
Despite some questionable practices and behaviour we see that it is very much "business as usual" ...but for how much longer? 

In my Lessons in Adversity post I consider what followed from previous recessions, and wonder what the consequences will be of young people seeing their parents struggle and become "Generation Spent" (literally and physically) Are there signs of what to expect starting to appear... 

Generation Rent
High levels of unemployment, zero hour contracts, a volatile economy, seeing parents struggle with mortgage payments, hard working families having to walk for miles for the charity of food banks... how can this not have a lasting impact on the young people living through these changes?

Articles are starting to appear regarding the business of the future: renting and sharing or how all the current insecurity is changing peoples priorities, goals and aspirations answer any questions about why aren't young people buying more homes or my faviourite pictures of millenials with everything they own (and it isn't much).

Makes you wonder why these "Millenials" get so much criticism about many of their ideas and actions... they seem to have sussed the game out better than the older generation have!

And I can't imagine too many parents advising them otherwise, so could the banks end up paying a heavy price in the long run... but could this also affect education? 

From Freakonomics... to Freaking Out Educators?
Freakonomics discusses what the major contributing factors were when there was a drop in crime in the 1990s. While politicians and other groups argued that it was their policies that led to these improved crime statistics, authors Stephen & Dubner Steven Levitt argue that the legalisation of abortion in the landmark 1973 legal case Roe Vs Wade (which legalised abortion nationwide in the USA) played a significant role.

Could it be some similarly unexpected reasons that end up being the deciding factor that plays a big impact in traditional methods of further education? 

As the debate about the merits and flaws of online learning rages on... c
ould it be the mindset of "Generation Rent" that will be the deciding factor in the mass uptake and adoption of MOOCs?

Education with a small e
There's not much room for course books and in these
houses... But it will be easier for students to relocate 
to where the work is.
I don't know if there is anything in this but its difficult to imagine that there will be much of an appetite for a group who are travelling so lighting to want to be saddled with thousands of pounds worth of debt on Education with a big "E"... when they are able to replace this with a small "e" through e-learning.   

And with parents providing the benefits of their experiences from the side lines, if I were an educator, I wouldn't want to bet against it... 

I know that I'll be telling my kids about the importance of doing what you love, making a (positive!) difference... but to travel light, it will sure help them to not get bogged down if they ever decide to take the road less traveled.

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