If start-up activity is the true engine of job creation in America, one thing is clear: our current educational system is acting as the brakes. Simply put, from kindergarten through undergraduate and grad school, you learn very few skills or attitudes that would ever help you start a business. Skills like sales, networking, creativity and comfort with failure.
No business in America — and therefore no job creation — happens without someone buying something. But most students learn nothing about sales in college; they are more likely to take a course on why sales (and capitalism) are evil.
Moreover, very few start-ups get off the ground without a wide, vibrant network of advisers and mentors, potential customers and clients, quality vendors and valuable talent to employ. You don’t learn how to network crouched over a desk studying for multiple-choice exams. You learn it outside the classroom, talking to fellow human beings face-to-face.
I’ve worked at start-ups— three of them, in fact — but I doubt this writer has. While people may think that if you clone a Steve Jobs you’ll get twice as many start-ups, it simply isn’t true.
The real brakes on a start-up have nothing to do with leadership or mentoring, or any of that Great Man bullcrap. The real brakes on start-ups is always second and third round hiring. You get a small group of people together (I was employee #12 at one company) and you have talent wall-to-wall. You succeed at that scale and go to hire more people and with each round it becomes increasingly hard to find the sort of well-rounded problem-solvers and niche experts you need.
Does education produce those people? The people that actually make the start-up work? I’m not sure, but that’s the question to be asking. Whether people want to admit it or not, we’ve got a surplus of Steve Jobs in this country — but they can’t do anything without a workforce.
That people can see goods and services in the shop window but have no money to buy them is the classic failure of capitalism. That people have money but there are no goods in the shop window is the classic failure of socialism. Not to be too simplistic but our current problem looks more like the first than the second.Posted: October 22, 2011
That people can see goods and services in the shop window but have no money to buy them is the classic failure of capitalism. That people have money but there are no goods in the shop window is the classic failure of socialism.
Not to be too simplistic but our current problem looks more like the first than the second.
I don’t think you can call it remediation anymore when 1/3 of your students require it. At some point the problem is not the students or the high schools, but that we’ve built a higher education system based on false assumptions about who our students are and what they have when they get here.
Our failure isn’t that the students need to be remediated. Our failure is our misaligned priorities require that we call it “remediation”.
From Klein’s The student debt crisis in one chart (article here)
Inequality and economic growth. From the IMF, which I hope is using this to rethink its approach…
I’m sure someone has mentioned this, but the interesting thing if you look at Wikipedia is how many editing hours have gone into each page. Shirky says there’s a hundred million hours put into Wikipedia. There’s an estimated 342,768 full articles in Wikipedia.
That’s about 291 hours per article. I don’t know what they get to write an article at Britannica, but I imagine it is something less than a sixth of a year.
If my math is wrong, feel free to correct it. This is back of the envelope stuff. (and yes, I’m aware that many articles in Britannica are re-edits — feel free to include in that sixth of a year all edits from the 11th edition until now if you want, I think the core claim does not change).
If my math is right, you can only crowd-source a very limited set of things before general productivity collapses. And as all good economists know, productivity is the key to quality of life — the quality of life, ironically, that allows us enough time to edit Wikipedia articles for free…aka the “cognitive surplus”…