One of the most “cut to the bone” books I have read recently is Tamny’s hot-off-the-press book. And his perspective is as fresh as the original glazed donut you eat when you pull into Krispy Kreme when the HOT NOW sign is on.
Tamny not only encourages us to see a paradigm shift higher education must make in order to address the rapid pace at which the world has changed, he actually questions the fundamental value of higher education in a time when the pace of change is so fast that the higher education is being left behind in the dust. Even academic elitists – or those who are sold on the importance of “degree pedigree” – will savor this book for its analytical penetration.
Tamny pulls no punches, and reminds me of the Great American author Tom Wolfe, as he pulls the veil back on just how out of touch higher education structure is to the Real World lighting the fast-paced evolution of occupations. His x-ray analysis is as rich as an MRI for your knee, and as necessary, because graduates of college continue to limp along in trying to find jobs, often finding that what they learned at school has very limited relevance to what they need to do on the first day of the job.
For this reason, I love the title of one of Chapter 3: “Education is not worthless, but it’s grossly exaggerated”. Tamny is critically relevant to Where We Are Now, especially given the very recent news indicating that many of the most influential companies are scrapping the college degree requirement.
My perception is higher education is at a tipping point where the out-of-control tuition costs have caused parents to consider non-college training, trade schools, or gritty life experience, about as valuable as college training, to help their child truly mature and enter the workforce with a hungry enough attitude to succeed.
Tamny is poignant as he articulates how a key ingredient missing in American higher education is a lack of focus on precisely matching unique talents to the ever diversifying economy which demands people graduate college having a highly refined sense of which occupations are deeply synced to who they truly are.
He even makes suggestions about how to make college majors more relevant, which I find compelling, given what we have are graduates looking more like war casualties where they have changed majors an average of 6 times.
As I have pointed out in other blogs, there are now a myriad of occupations that could never have been envisioned as ways to make a living even 10 years ago. If many of these new occupations do not demand a college degree, why waste the money unless one needs specialized graduate degrees. But even then real world experience is important before one does that degree work.
See the links to other blogs I have written on this topic at the end of this blog.
Tamny sees the writing on the wall: Any bureaucratic institution as large as the traditional university is destined to become increasingly disconnected just as the Titanic would increasingly be outmaneuvered by more innovative education programs providing equally credentialed college credits such as online universities, etc.
Tamny makes the cogent point that universities can talk a grand game about preparing their graduates for tomorrow, but given how bureaucratically driven they are, they tend to have a very limited knowledge about “tomorrow”.
Taking Tamny’s points to the ultimate means that as parents, you must realize that the most important task is not getting your kid into college, it’s helping them figure out what their true passions and talents are, what activities most energize them, before they ever step foot on a college campus. And I would argue there are many students who do not need to go to college because there are so many other alternative paths for them to learn what they need to learn.
Recently, I had lunch with a CEO of a large multinational company, who said he looks for four things in job applicants: Do you have natural intelligence? Do you have the skills we are looking for? Are you likable, and can you work well with others? How hungry are you? Ask yourself: How much does college cultivate these qualities vs real life?
As Tamny points out, and I quote him: “Precisely because the economy is evolving faster and faster, classroom teaching can’t keep up. The knowledge that wins is gained by doing the work that corresponds with your skills.”
As people from all over the world compete for jobs in any local neighborhood around the world, being hired by a company has never been more competitive than now.
At this point in the history of vocational/career/college guidance, behavioral science is the Wise Shepherd that can usher people into the Deep Intelligence they need to find their Career Sweet Spot. When I have found that Sweet Spot with hundreds of clients over the last decade, we find that that place is so energizing that it then operates as sustainably as the process of nuclear fusion.
It has never been more important for a high schooler or even someone in the early or mid-career to exhaustively probe themselves in order to determine exactly what occupations will allow them to tap into their power nuclear career fusion.
Tamny’s book is an accurate diagnosis of the roles education can and cannot play in the career exploration process. But a necessary part of The Cure is that one must use advanced behavioral science methods to discover the exact kinds of occupations so we can end Work by finding Play. Rarely can that Sweet Spot be discovered by trial and error.
Yes…there are a few who are born knowing what they want to do. From the very beginning of her life, my wife knew she wanted to become a veterinarian. Lucky her!!!!! But that is the rarest of exceptions.
Grisly statistics clarify that the vast majority of people wander around in a career fog, using guesswork and trial and error until they find a career that they usually end up regretting. Is it any wonder that one of the top 5 regrets of the dying is “I wish I had followed my dreams!” And yet, there is a scientific process you can use to find Play at Work, where Mondays are as fun as Fridays.
My other career blogs for those interested: