Education is not Learning. Managers are Lemmings

Photo credits: ThirdTierReality

Formal education sucks.

I said it before and am gonna keep repeating in until someone proves me wrong. To be clear, I’m talking about business and technical studies here, so not medicine, pharmacy and alike.

Why do I say this? Well, you see, I’m in business for more then 10 years already, started in business, moved to the government, then NGOs and finally back to business again (see my About me page). In all of these jobs a University degree was required, and I was “an exception that proves the rule”. And still am, actually.

Now, not that I’m too smart or anything, but thing is that in all of these jobs, University degree is either not needed because the job is not too complicated, or the University degree itself is completely irrelevant. Of course, I’m not saying that these jobs don’t require knowledge and skills, but am saying, loud and clear, that this knowledge does not require University. For some of it because it would be stupid that we learn such things there and for some because the formal education system is lagging at least 20 years behind the business. Everything I learned I did either by myself, or on specific courses, and mostly experiential. Needles to say, most of this knowledge I acquired was free of charge or cheap. Sure, there are smart things to hear at Universities too, and smart and inventive lecturers. Am not even gonna go into evaluating the importance of student life and parties etc. 🙂

But is it worth the investment? Does it provide what it promises?


And then I asked myself many times why is this happening and how is it possible that existing Education system can be so slow? I mean, education system used to be a backbone of development worldwide, and smartest of them used to be gathered around Universities. And today, we hire you and then teach you your job during induction days and through learning activities of all sorts, but still we require a diploma of any kind.
I argued many times in the places I worked and work today – are we looking for and hiring people that will add value to the company or people that fulfill most of the criteria given by the job catalogue? Usually managers either tell me that “it has to be done because of the procedure” or “blah, it’s a stupid copy-paste mistake in the job advertisement”. The same people I argued with told me that they understand that University system is lagging behind and does not give us people with skills and knowledge we need. And You see, they still require the same!? Freakin’ Lemmings!

I urge you, people, please stop doing this!

These “mistakes” and stupid procedures are supporting the system that doesn’t do any good to us or our development. If there is no school for Human Resources professionals, then don’t require random diplomas (in our case it’s Economy, Organizational Sciences, Psychology and similar) just to fulfill the procedure. This is plainly stupid for many reasons:

  • you’re discouraging some of the great talents to apply, because they “don’t fit within the criteria”,
  • you’re encouraging the system that says – Uni diploma is a piece of paper that you need to fulfill the criteria and nothing else,
  • you’re sending a message that you are a Lemming, either because you don’t understand the issue, or you don’t care or you are just lazy to try to change anything.
  • by being a Lemming, you don’t have the right to blame your workforce for bad results. It is your fault!

What can you do, though?

  • If you are a manager: require talent, knowledge, skills, stuff that really matters – not Uni diploma
  • If you are a manager: promote learning in your company, not education and training. Don’t know the difference? Google it!
  • If you are a lecturer or anyone in academic sector: don’t limit your students with formal education. Encourage them to open their minds and look outside of their books. Promote tools for learning, websites that matter, organize and promote discussions around topics that are interesting.
  • If you are a decision maker within the government: relax the freakin’ system and lead the true reform of the system. The thing that Serbia (and other developing countries) is so small, poor and behind the West is a chance for us, not the problem. Technology is cheap and can only empower knowledge sharing and development!
  • Whoever you are, promote tools like social networks, blogs, or any knowledge sharing and learning tools there are. Check out, for example, Below is their promo video – Let’s start a learning revolution. It’s meant for US market, but it’s pretty much the same everywhere:

Let’s Start a Learning Revolution from Skillshare on Vimeo.

Also, check out the ideas and plans of the World Bank, which is rolling out their new Education strategy these days. Dragana Markovic wrote about it on her blog, check her post here.



To conclude:

Don’t be a Lemming!

Empower learning and knowledge, not procedures and rules!

Do something!




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