Posts Tagged ‘education reform’
In a recent talk at IgniteNYC, entrepreneur Michael Karnjanaprakorn challenges the notion that paying for a traditional four-year college degree is necessary for knowledge attainment and career success. He’s certainly not the only one to recently voice doubt about the state of higher learning in the United States. Numerous editorial voices have weighed in during recent months on the evidence presented by the Pew Research Center’s 2011 study done in conjunction with the Chronicle of Higher Education citing steep tuition costs and fewer job opportunities for all Americans due to current economic conditions. Karnkanaprakorn’s main argument is that higher education today fails to provide sufficient opportunities for students to “learn” and instead is a model where costs increasingly outweigh the benefits. But is his counter-suggestion really that much better for students?
The model proposed by Karnjanaprakorn and deployed via his start-up SkillShare relies on community-based, special interest courses that hone in on specific skill sets, including courses in “How to Make Anyone Fall in Love with You,” “Malaysian Cooking,” and “How to Get a Job at a Start-Up.” Definitely good life skills to have, but outside of filling your lonely days and nights or getting a job at Next Big Internet Thing, LLC (or at least catering their IPO celebration), this “learning-focused” system still lacks the specialized skill focus that careers in healthcare, IT, and the modern service industry require. Recruiting the qualified instructors to teach how to attain career-specific skills, providing equipment and materials to allow realistic settings in which to practice and learn, and gaining state or corporate licensure to even instruct students on how to gain the qualifications to practice certain trades is not free. According to Nate Johnson’s 2009 study of how much education costs for a school, this is just the beginning – operational costs, the cost of student attrition, and dozens of other factors make it clear that offering a place to learn is more complex than Karnjanaprakorn’s analysis conveys.