The Future of Education | Jesse Hirsh: Everyday is an Opportunity to Become Smarter

January 17, 2017

This month, we’re highlighting the topic of Education by asking some of our expert speakers on the subject to share thoughts on where they believe we are heading.

Today’s guest blog comes from Futurist & Digital Strategist Jesse Hirsh. His education presentation ‘Learning at the Speed of Light: How Technology Accelerates Education’ looks at how we can foster a culture of lifelong learning while also creating spaces that are free of bullies. He discusses not only how to keep up with the evolving tools, but also how to keep up with your employees and students themselves. This blog is an excerpt from Jesse’s upcoming book:

There once was a time when learning stopped in school, work ended at five, and people had one career until they retired. Yet in a knowledge economy, these are all concepts of the past and are no longer applicable for the future. Learning never stops, work never ends, and our careers constantly evolve, with most of us having several over the course of our professional lives.

Life in a knowledge economy is fast paced, and there is always new knowledge to change how things are done and why. We cannot and should not assume that what we know today will be applicable tomorrow.

In this kind of dynamic environment, learning is not an option, but a prerequisite for keeping up, let alone achieving success. Learning is the fuel of innovation, the framework for survival, and the best means of staying afloat in an era flooded with information.

Schools can no longer be in the business of teaching facts or getting students to memorize knowledge. Rather schools have to imbue upon students the joy of learning, as what they learn upon graduation, while in the workforce, is far more important than what they will learn when in class.

Part of this is a result of how fast knowledge is evolving, but really this is about how knowledge is applied as part of our work, as we build careers, and as we evolve with the times. In an era where all the world’s knowledge is at our fingertips, it becomes irresponsible to remain ignorant when enlightenment is a few clicks or swipes away. Research no longer has to involve heavy lifting by highly skilled professionals, but rather is accessible to anyone who is curious and motivated.

Certainly, we see this in the way that our relationship with work has changed. Technology has extended the “office” into all areas of life. Insofar as our brain is active, and connectivity is available, we tend to work at all sorts of odd hours. Not only is isolating work to arbitrary hours of the day no longer the norm but often not even a choice. For many, work occurs when you can get it, and pleasing clients or bosses can be something we have to do at any point of the day or night.

Therefore it is no surprise to hear people say “work smarter not harder” as a response to the stress of the 24/7 work day. In this context, doing things the way they’ve always been done results in a loss of productivity, and an increase in stress. We need to find new ways of working that keep our bodies and minds at peak performance.

This is why the onus is on us to always be learning. We can achieve this by finding better ways to do things and effectively leverage technology to work smarter and not harder. Hence automation and the rise of smart software to help us. Cognitive computing is not about making humans obsolete but rather helping humans make the transition to a knowledge economy where we can work smarter.

There’s also no such thing as a job for life or a single career. Rather, there will be a steady need to pivot and re-invent yourself as the economy changes and old roles become obsolete while new roles emerge as opportunities. There’s also good reason to believe that this cycle will accelerate as time moves on. Cognitive computing and big data will continue to transform industries and sectors, making some careers obsolete while simultaneously creating others. Those who are able to adapt and evolve as these markets change will be the ones to find success (and fulfillment).

“Those who are able to adapt and evolve as these markets change will be the ones to find success (and fulfilment).”

How can your next career build upon your existing knowledge and expertise? How does your existing career fuel your learning curve and give you the capacity to move up in the economy? While some people focus on how much money they make, others focus on what they are learning, and how that knowledge will impact or enable their next career move.

These are all strategic questions and issues that individuals have to face while navigating their work and thinking about their future. How are you as a professional developing your knowledge, and how are you applying that knowledge so that it grows in breadth, scope, and value?

Learn more on Jesse’s Learning at the Speed of Light talk and how he can inspire your audience by contacting us here.