Do You Know it When You See it?

This isn’t going to be part of the great education debate.  It could be, but it won’t.

Back when I decided to attend business school, one of the concerns that crossed my mind was whether my limited attention span could withstand two straight years of all business all the time.  I am marketing minded, for sure.  But I like to believe there is more to life than balance sheets and creative briefs.

So, I was hugely excited when we were given a business ethics class pre-reading assignment of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.  Zen, in business school? How awesome is that?

I spent much of that summer working my way through the book.  If you haven’t read it, you should. It’s immensely philosophical and talks a great deal about perception and reality. What is true and what is up for debate. It was fascinating. By August I was ready for our deep ethical philosophical discussion. Continue reading

Does Your Success Require a College Education?

My parents, both of whom earned master’s degrees and were front and center in my school’s PTA, taught me that some of the best learning opportunities are outside the classroom – for example, when they let me skip class to visit a local criminal trial in 8th grade. Though I loved school, I was still anxious to finish college early and find ways to learn that I would not only be paid for, but that would have some use beyond my GPA. Some of the brightest, most successful people I know today are autodidacts, high school and college dropouts. And in my work with myGreenlight, I’m part of a rapidly evolving world of online learning options that lets individuals close self-identified skills gaps affordably and on-demand.

All this is to say that I’ve been thrilled and excited by recent public debate around the value (and cost) of higher education. The conversation has been fueled by economists (e.g. Richard K. Vedder of Ohio University and Robert I. Lerman of American University); by venture capitalists and entrepreneurs (Peter Thiel and Seth Godin); by online educators  (startups like Udemy and sprawling organizations like the University of Phoenix) and by writers — most recently, Michael Ellsberg, whose new book The Education of Millionaires (recently discussed in his myG Social Capitalist interview and you can get a free first chapter at his site) seeks to teach vital success skills in sales, networking, and self-marketing that are neglected by university degree programs.

This week, Michael’s book provoked a tart review in Time, which Michael then rebutted in The New York Times.

Vartan Gregorian, president of the Carnegie Corporation and a former leader in several top universities, writes in Time that he welcomes “the kind of robust debate about the value of higher education that this book may engender.”

Unfortunately he doesn’t use his space in Time to contribute to that debate. Continue reading