The Future of Education is Self-Education

We were all told that the best way to get ahead in America is to get a degree.

That was a lie.  Getting a degree isn’t enough for the new, global economy.

A major reason for this is that the bureaucracies (government and corporate) that valued credentials are shrinking (in every developed country) and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.   They are hiring fewer people and paying them less with each passing year.

In contrast, the dynamic and unstructured new economy is growing rapidly, and generously rewarding the people that understand what it takes to succeed in it.

This new economy cares more about:

  • what you know,
  • what you’ve done, and
  • what your reputation is (“should I trust you?”)

Unfortunately, this isn’t something the US educational system will help you with.

It’s a bureaucratic assembly line that was built to award credentials that are valued by bureaucracies.  The same bureaucracies that are in hiring fewer people every year now (government) or sectors in crisis that are surviving on a debt bubble that will soon burst (education and health care).

Fortunately, there’s one skill that you can use to prepare yourself for the new economy.  Self-education.

It’s the ability to educate yourself using the Internet.

In fact, the ability to learn anything on your own is so important, I believe it is the single most important determinant of future success.

It means:

  1. you will have the knowledge and skills that people will pay for,
  2. your knowledge and skills will always be up to date (in some technical areas, those skills are evolving in real-time), and
  3. you will be able to rapidly shift from job/focus that becomes obsolete (in other words, you will never be obsolete).

The problem is that the current system won’t teach you to do that.

In fact, the people running it will tell you just the opposite.

So, IF you are going to learn how to learn, you are going to need to learn how to do it on your own.


Join the movement to restore America's prosperity

Discussion — 11 Responses

  • Javier August 14, 2014 on 1:55 pm


  • Mike Lotus August 15, 2014 on 10:39 am

    Now, we need to teach people (including ourselves) how to do this.
    And make and sell the tools to do it.

  • Fabio Cecin August 15, 2014 on 2:47 pm

    This whole blog is excellent. This well-written blog post in particular puts one of the recent “truths” people are starting to discover. This is not even controversial, this blog post is essentially a news post (newsflash: ….)

    • Fabio Cecin Fabio Cecin August 15, 2014 on 2:53 pm

      There is no “way” to do this. You just go out and do it. Type it on a search engine, read, try some stuff, repeat. It takes ten minutes to teach someone how to do this, perhaps another ten minutes giving away some smart keywords or keyword tricks when searching.

      The main obstacle is social perception: people may think you’re just sitting on your ass “not working” or “not doing serious study.” Whereas you can go to a Prestigious Lockstep-with-a-bunch-of-people Learning Institution and waste 100X the time, and the outdated social perception will be all on your favor. It’s just that: an outmodded custom, but customs do have their power, unfortunately.

      If you are going to self-educate, you need to have it in you (or “have discipline,” if you want to put it that way). It is possible to be somewhat-educated by attending a PLLI — you do it because of the pressure to “finish it” — whereas self-education happens when you really need it or really want it.

  • George Lowry August 15, 2014 on 3:20 pm

    If you have a passion for something, you’ll find yourself driven to master it. An interest in Amateur Radio from 1977 grew in to a platform for a career. On the back of that I’ve had a joyful marriage and raised two daughters to honorable adulthood. My formal education ended in Junior College. Most Electrical Engineers are loath to cross swords with me.

  • Gregg Sinner August 15, 2014 on 8:33 pm

    Agree that the status quo in k-16 education is obsolete. Yet, having recognized credentials or certification that you have actually demonstrated knowledge, skills and talents is essential. Despite defenders of the status quo, competency-based and blended learning is happening at both the k-12 and college level – New Hampshire is one state leading the nation in this effort.

    Authentic learning requires that a student constructs new or novel knowledge and engages in disciplined inquiry; and what is learned has value in the world outside of school.

    Additionally, if you’re an autodidact polymath you’ve done most of your learning on your own and do not require formal schooling. Yet, who among us has not benefited from being supported by a parent or teacher or mentor or advocate in our efforts to become really good at something we have a passion for?

    Agreed that schools must liberate the goodness and genius of each student – by design. Some of us are working hard at transforming both learning and schooling – to make it so.

  • Tony Navarra August 16, 2014 on 1:09 pm

    Great post as usual. Robb, one of the things I would like to see more of are case studies. Take an example of a micro-business and run us through the inputs (time,energy, knowledge), the process and the outputs.

    I know the world is changng, I need something I can sink my teeth into

  • DataShade August 16, 2014 on 3:04 pm

    I feel like I should point out: most people with a degree in Library Sciences who are actually employed and even vaguely enthusiastic about their job can help with something like this, rather than just throwing yourself into the jaws of a search engine and hoping you emerge unscathed.

  • Jack August 18, 2014 on 2:14 pm

    If anyone is interested in finding means of self-educating, I’ve pasted a reddit post from a few months ago where people were asking where to find resources. Many are computer related but there are many sources covering much else. Happy schooling!

  • jeannie August 18, 2014 on 9:07 pm

    What’s it you guys want to know about learning ? Is it how to do it (learn) or what to learn? For me it’s reading although the guy who taught me the most about auto mechanics couldn’t read and the guy who taught me the most about neck work( I’m a massage therapist) spoke only Russian and I don’t. My mentoring consisted of ” Notice greatness in others and learn as much as you can from them” “Be on time” “Don’t make excuses” “come in early and stay late” “Do a good job no matter what the job is”” No Whining” That takes care of the reputation part. There’s a couple of home school families that come to our vegetable stand and the kids are a completely different species than regular school kids..The “goodness and genius” came built in transforming by “educators” necessary. Is it that people don’t know what it is they want to think and learn or is it that they want to be told what that thing will be? Is it the coming up with an idea to make money or a way to make money without coming up with an idea? Absolutely EVERYTHING that’s already been thought of is on the internet for anyone to read so I’m very curious please explain.

  • Clark Landwehr August 27, 2014 on 1:57 pm

    Great post. Absolutely 100% spot on.