Filed under: Comment
One of the things I love about airports is seeing all the advertising.
The reason I say this is not because it represents the pinnacle of creativity, but because it embodies the ego of so many industries.
To be honest, I’ve never really bought into the whole ‘airport advertising targets the uber-successful’.
There’s a couple of reasons for this …
1/ I go to airports a hell of a lot and I am about as successful as errrrrm, someone you’ve never heard of who isn’t very successful.
2/ The truly successful go to airports so regularly, that they don’t get there 2 hours before takeoff, but about 2 minutes before doors close – meaning they don’t hang around long enough to even notice any of the billboard ads, let alone react to them.
Anyway, getting back to the reason for this post, recently I was walking through HK airport when I saw these …
Jesus Christ, have you ever read such clichéd twaddle? Is it just me or do they sound like the sort of ‘joke’ you get in a Christmas cracker?
I’ve written before how much I value education – and I’ve also written how I don’t believe they should be run as an independent profit centres – however what bugs me is that so many universities are seemingly now positioning themselves as the ‘home for greater wealth’ which has major implications both on the attitudes of the people attending and the courses being offered.
Of course I’m generalising – however a little while back, whilst on Google duty, I was in the fortunate position of doing some work with Harvard when they announced they didn’t want to be known as a place that simply [my words] “churned out the next generation of billionaire banker, but wanted to help develop people who wished to make the World a better place”.
Now, given I’d met many of their professors, I knew this to be true however it didn’t stop me ringing my contacts [professors in law and economics] telling them that if they really wanted this to be the case, why don’t they double the admission costs [as people will still pay as it’s bloody Harvard] and let someone who has  no desire to be a banker and  no chance of ever attending, study there.
“You got us Robert”.
You see, whilst I know places like Harvard genuinely do want education to be used as a currency for good [both personal and social] the fact is, we have become a society where ‘value’ is determined almost universally on ‘financial return’ which is why the majority of places of learning hunt down ‘customers’ down with all the zeal of an FMCG … promising wealth seemingly based more on the fact companies like people with MBA’s rather than education – which when mingled with a person’s natural curiosity and pragmatism – can/will open new and exciting doors of opportunities.
As Sir Ken Robinson said in his landmark speech, the problem with all this is that so many people are now getting degrees etc, their value is actually decreasing – meaning that unless something drastic happens, we are in danger of churning out experts in process rather than individuals who can pragmatically take their knowledge and do something new and interesting with it.
If you want to see what the future looks like if universities don’t start embracing and encouraging a more entrepreneurial spirit, look no further than the students of Singapore … a production line of brilliant people who in many cases, sadly have an inability to think around a problem and/or cannot accept objective points of view.
In other words, it’s a generation who aspire to be middle management in an International company rather than create their own future and fate.
I once saw a brilliant professor of psychology [@ Utah University no less!] who said that when he started teaching in the 60’s, the campus was a hotbed of debate regarding how to make the World a better place for all who lived in it … now people just talk about how best to make a billion … and whilst money is incredibly important, if even our places of learning happily perpetuate the myth that the only things of value is first class travel and wearing a suit in an International company, then what hope have we got to make business and life interesting.
I know I am bound to be biased, but it’s for these reasons I hope Richard Branson one day starts a university because by his own admission, if he had based his decisions following the rules advocated by many of the business universities around the World, he’d of ended up being a bloke selling used LP’s at a market stall in South London.
46 Comments so far
Leave a comment