We See the Future But . . .
There seems to be a growing focus not only on AI and the disappearance of many jobs but, much more tentatively, on the economic sense of a basic income if jobs are not available to make a living possible. That is helpful but it is much harder going in the educational trenches. The mud is deep but no one really wants to stick their head up too far for fear of seeing too much. As a result the vision is mostly of the next trench and how to fight our way from where we are now to that incremental improvement. The unstated fear is that these educational trenches are an endless maze and the degrees we are selling are a sham that will be laughed at by future historians along with the diligent scribes who kept checking the boxes on the accreditation forms.
So how the hell do we get to a world of people who find reward in being creative, adaptive, collaborative, and cognitive workers or, if not that, able to find some really good and ecologically safe hobbies really fast. Particularly when all they wanted to do was drive their truck and drink some beer on the weekend? And how the hell do 19th century educational institutions staffed by people mostly stuck in the 20th century evolve over the next five years to help with this?
I watch this year’s community college students both old and young and I sense that they are trying really hard to ignore this strange talk about the future. Who wants to think that this is worthless as they struggle to meet the requirements for college without a functional high school education while trying to qualify for and keep as much financial aid as they can get? They’re not enrolling fast enough already and many have given up having used up their financial aid with nothing to show for it. That seems to me a recipe for a lot of very angry people down the road just a little way. In other words just about the time they start realizing that the trucks really are driving themselves and the new Uber and Lyft drivers, who use to be cab drivers, realize the same thing is now happening to them.
It’s one thing when students at high level research universities demonstrate for causes and take over an administration building or two. It’s a whole other thing when you have the people struggling to be the first college student in a family discover that they haven’t even been given the skills for even a small piece of the gig economy. Explaining to them that the standard college mission is to make their life richer with higher education may have an unexpected effect. I’m afraid that this is going to explode . . .