September 25, 2015

We’re feeling these little PSA missives, so launching another one.

Posting this while attending the 4th Annual Washing & Lee Entrepreneurship Summit.  This is part of W&L’s growing entrepreneurship undergraduate program, and it’s been amazing to see the program’s growth in just five years.  Demonstrates that going your own way may be the new norm in another generation or so.

Having this type of program grow so popular at a largely liberal arts university seems quite fitting.  To run your own business requires you to wear a multitude of hats.  Being great at one thing doesn’t serve you well in this line of work; being good to very good at a host of things is more of the job requirement.  That’s exactly what W&L is producing (and has produced).

That said, while a well-rounded education is a must, our growing reliance/dependence on technology has made us re-think how younger should be introduced to the sciences and technology.  Just look at your daily life – now take away every bit of technology you utilize and you’ll get an idea of why we think education is key.  We think all aspects of tech have become the most important subject that can be taught at every level of education (pre-school, kindergarten, elementary, high school, college, post-grad). 

In this sense, STEM –Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics – are the areas of education on which we should focus.  Not looking to minimize history, English, or any other education areas, but those should be utilized to round out a student.  The jobs available in 20 years are going to be filled by those with technical capabilities.  We already see it happening (and have since the 1980’s), so those already on an education path that does not focus on technology will be at a disadvantage in short order.

That is why we must demand better technology education.  San Francisco, Chicago, and New York City have all announced plans to make computer science a central course in their public school systems.  That’s a start, but one that won’t be get rolling for at least another decade.  So while that’s going to be a boon for a generation or two down the line, alternative solutions should be sought by today’s students.

Knowing how to use an app on a mobile device or tablet does not make a young person “tech savvy.”  Rather, building a mobile app and sharing it with an increasingly interested global audience does.  So does knowing how to secure a wireless network in your home, or driving data to a killer Cloud application, or repairing electronic devices.  These are skills that we should cultivate in our students now.