DEAR PROFessor, YOU ARE GOING TO LOSE YOUR JOB! PART – II

By Tanay Bhattacharjee

November 13, 2023

Dear Pankaj,

Let’s play a game.

I will tell you three stories; you will have to identify the person they are about.

Story No 1.

He was the 13th son of one of the richest Indian of the time. From an early age he took to writing but was too shy to publish. In school he was not very interested and was found to be procrastinating. He was sent to England to study law. Didn’t find law interesting either. He taught himself English and Irish literature on the side. He dropped out of law college and came back to India.

(Have you guessed it, yet?)

He went on to found a university that attracted students from across the globe and also won a Noble Prize for literature along the way.

Story No 2.

He was put up for adoption just after he was born. But his biological mother made it a condition that anyone adopting him will have to put him through college. The couple who adopted him, did send him to ONE. But he dropped out after six months. However, he stayed back in campus and dropped in the classes that interested him. Calligraphy was one such class.

He took a job at Hewlett Packard (HP). He became interested in computer circuit design and became friends with another HP employee who was a prodigy in the field. Soon they would start a company that would go on to be one of the most valuable in the world and revolutionize entire industries with their products.

In my last letter I promised to tell you how education is going to be disrupted. I am telling these stories to start with the premise that a college degree is not required to let alone start a company,but to start a university as well.

“But these are exceptions,” you say.

To counter your point, I need to reveal something about me. I am not just a blogger. I have a day job at a Bank. And in my experience of more than a decade at the Bank I have been surprised to discover that many of our successful clients do not even have a STD X or STD XII.

Your degree is only required for a job.

Even this practice of requiring a college degree is relic of the past and is continuing because no one does away with it. A college degree was relevant hundreds of years ago when you could learn things only in a college. Books weren’t so easily available and one had to learn skills from a teacher so that he could earn a living.

The system followed an “In case you need it” model.

 It tries to teach you many things in case you need it in the future. Because knowledge was confined to books and teachers, access to which became restricted once you were working a job. The Internet has changed all of that. One can now learn anything, anytime and anywhere.

Education now has to move to “As and when you need it model”.

But how does one know what he needs to know? Here is a scenario of how things might be in the future.

After graduating from high school, a student takes up a job/internship at a place he thinks he might want to make a career in. As he works, he realizes that he needs to learn a lot to excel in his chosen field. He starts taking online courses. Or maybe he finds someone offering independent offline classes on topics relevant to his field. Or maybe he finds a course offered by some Institution. Now, whatever he is being taught in the classes seems so much relevant to him.

So, am I saying there will no need for colleges at all? I am not saying that.

You see, knowledge is of two types – one, that is sought to discover, to invent, to take the human race forward. Knowledge for its own sake. And it is here colleges/universities will play a leading role. As a center for research, learning and discovery.

Second– knowledge that is applied practically. For this, the sector should be opened up to private players. This will drive innovation and force people to come up with practical, industry relevant courses free from fixed curriculum made by a committee who decides on their own what is important to be taught and what is not important enough to be taught.

Future education will be a mix of online, offline and practical learning. And it will be lifelong. It won’t end after one has acquired a certain degree.

Let’s end the game with the final story. Story No 3.

A boy does his schooling up to STD X and then drops out. He goes to work in a call center and starts trading the stock markets on the side. Soon he is managing money for his colleagues. He quits his job and along with his brother starts a stock broking firm. They find that the process of opening of demat accounts and trading the markets is cumbersome for the customers.

They decide that there is much that can be done to improve the system. They employ technology to improve the user experience and start a trading app. After 10 years they become one of the richest people in the country.

The first story was of Rabindranath Tagore, the second of Steve Jobs and the third of Nikhil Kamath, co-founder, Zerodha.

These stories of self taught, college drop out successful people may seem to be an exception now, but might just be the norm in the future.

Your friend

Tanay

The writer is a Blogger and Creative Consultant at openclasses.app

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