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SXSWedu Part II: knowing how to count can be frightening!

SXSWedu Part II: knowing how to count can be frightening!

After listening to Rod Paige, the man behind the "No Child Left Behind" Act, I know how I will start my Masters course this fall. My first question to my students entering the journey will be as follows:

 

You will spend two years in this program,

how much will these two years cost you?

 

They will start answering the question by discussing tuition fees and the costs of buying books and supplies. Obviously, there are other costs: food, housing, beer (!) but all these would apply regardless of the fact that they continued their studies, and should therefore not be included in the calculation. A student from a remote area may rightly evoke travel expenses and accommodation in Montreal. Finally, after a few minutes, someone will talk about the full salary he could have received during these two years, which he will not. The term "opportunity cost" will be uttered. At the end of an undergraduate degree, say twice $ 42,700.

 

Everyone will be scared: an investment of more than $ 90,000 is a considerable amount! This is the moment when I reassure my students. They have indeed made ??the right choice by deciding to study marketing, not finance. What they lose with these two additional years of studying is not their first two years of salary. This first year will occur, only later. It is, in fact, the last two years of salary they are losing. Those are the ones who fall, not the first two! And it is likely, should they evolve naturally into a comfortable career, that these two last years are not years at $ 42,700...

 

A few minutes of discussion and they start sizing what their "investment" in education entails: certainly not less than a half-million. In the silence that follows, I have a second question for them:

 

What will you hear here,

during your degree,

that you cannot hear elsewhere?

 

Sometimes I try to convince my students that I say things that they cannot hear anywhere else. Within the walls of this elite institution, we murmur truths that we do not know anywhere else, don't we? Things they do not know at UQAM? Elsewhere in Quebec? Not in New York? In Buenos Aires? London? Moscow? Casablanca? Shanghai, Riyadh, Tokyo or Manila? To ask the question is to realize how this assumption is unreasonable. The truth is that there is absolutely nothing that my graduate students hear during their two years that they cannot hear, read or see elsewhere.

 

Today, they can do it online at a fraction of price. The situation would be the same if they were studying at Harvard. They invest more than half a million to garner information that everyone can own and is easily accessible, which is enough to give shivers! However, I have a third and almost final question for them:

 

What salary do you expect to get

once you have completed your Masters degree?

 

Due to the fact that we have a good career management service, they know the latest data and tell me about $ 50,000. This will be my time to ask my last question, the hidden question. "I know a guy somewhere in Manila who is quite brilliant. In a library, online, and often on his mobile phone, he has access to the same knowledge as you."

 

This guy is smart; he has understood and assimilated the material. He listens to the same music as you, he reads the same books, dresses almost like you and is not far from eating or drinking the same things.

 

One difference: he has a life experience that is probably not comparable to yours. In his world, to live, you have to fight and this he learned early on. This guy asks me $ 15,000 to do the job. Why should I give you $ 50,000 to receive the same result, if not less? "There is only one "reasonable" answer to this question: "because I was born in Montreal and not in Manila. " That is what is called an economic rent and if there is one thing I realized at SXSW this year: no one can count on economic rent today!

 

My students will not be the only ones concerned at that moment. I am too! These issues, as a professor, cannot evade me. They engage me just as much. What is then the second lesson? The following: the way most of our training devices are designed has become an obstacle to our growth as individuals and as a society, rather than an accelerator. As reassuring and convenient as it may seem, our learning model focuses primarily on transmission and acquisition of information, which is no longer producing any value.

 

Replicating this model will not take us forward. It is less about learning than understanding. To be able to exercise better and differently our ability to reflect, our creativity and our resolve to take action to solve the problems of our organizations as well as those of our world, we must understand. This requires a completely different educational setting. Everything we have built has not been in vain, but at the same time, everything needs to be rebuilt.

 

At least, if we do not resign ourselves to the slow decline of our developed countries and still want to contribute in an active way to the history of this world.

 

Such is the current challenge of creative thinking, and creative thinkers.

 

 

More from Pierre Balloffet's SXSW education series:

> Part I: Go back to school! 

 

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