The Dropout Economy

When I took my daughter, then 9, out of school, her Headmistress asked, rather politely, “But what will her future be like if she’s a school dropout at 10?”  I responded almost instinctively, as if talking to an old friend, that by the time Thea reaches the age where she would be graduating from high-school, school “drop-outs” and home-schooled kids will be the new COOL, the first-choice for employment, partnerships and scholarships.

It’s obvious when you think about today’s world where most employers are no longer impressed by products of degree-mills; young people who are disconnected between the theories they regurgitated for a piece of paper and the real world they are supposed to bring value to.  In about 10 years, just about the time Thea and other unschooled children like her become young adults,  people are going to notice  that school drop-outs have all the desired qualities for the 21st Century Economy that others have been schooled out of in the 20th Century schooling machinery.

A Time magazine article on March 11th, 2010 brought back my enthusiasm about how I believe the future is going to unfold and how, with that knowledge, I am preparing those who would listen, for that future.

Middle-class kids are taught from an early age that they should work hard and finish school. Yet 3 out of 10 students dropped out of high school as recently as 2006, and less than a third of young people have finished college. …..But what if the millions of so-called dropouts are onto something? As conventional high schools and colleges prepare the next generation for jobs that won’t exist, we’re on the cusp of a dropout revolution, one that will spark an era of experimentation in new ways to learn and new ways to live.  (Italics are mine.)

It’s important to keep in mind that behavior that seems irrational from a middle-class perspective is perfectly rational in the face of straitened circumstances. People who feel obsolete in today’s information economy will be joined by millions more in the emerging post-information economy, in which routine professional work and even some high-end services will be more cheaply performed overseas or by machines. This doesn’t mean that work will vanish. It does mean, however, that it will take a new and unfamiliar form.

Rather than warehouse their children in factory schools invented to instill obedience in the future mill workers of America, bourgeois rebels will educate their kids in virtual schools tailored to different learning styles. Whereas only 1.5 million children were homeschooled in 2007, we can expect the number to explode in future years as distance education blows past the traditional variety in cost and quality.

Don’t forget to watch the short video by Reihan Salam (sorry, unable to embed video to show).  Here are some of the points I really loved :

  • We tend to think school dropouts are making a very big mistake with regards to their future – but what if school dropouts are on to something?
  • Good, solid, stable, middle-income jobs are vanishing regardless and it’s not kids’ fault they’re dropping out rather it’s the failure on the part of our schools.
  • Colleges and universities have evolved into diploma mills that really exist to perpetuate themselves and to expand their own budgets rather than deliver real value to the people they were meant to serve.
  • So in the future when your kids tell you they want to drop out of school it could be an indication that they’ve found a better of learning and preparing for the future.
If you liked this post you might also enjoy this article which includes a video of influential futurists Alvin and Heidi Toffler discussing how hopeless our school systems are in preparing for a future they predict is unfolding.
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3 Comments

Filed under Future of Education, Rethinking Parenting & Teaching, schooling

3 responses to “The Dropout Economy

  1. Twittered. Excellent observation. Will our kids be ready for the next profitable economy or will they be stuck trying to stumble through the old one?

  2. Pingback: Why We Homeschool « Englishforasians's Blog

  3. Pingback: Not another AO center. « 21st Century Penang Learning Community

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