Sunday, November 11, 2012

Does master degree imply true mastery?

I'm fascinated by the topic of the future of education and over at Freedom Lab, this post by Jörgen van der Sloot caught my eye.

"I've been diving into the topic of creativity for a bit these last couple of weeks. Triggered by talks to Edward De Bono, our Fellow collaborators in New York, Roger Martin's book 'The Opposable Mind' and our own thoughts on a critical mode of thinking, it seems to me that a 'Masters Degree' is just not cut out anymore to face the 21st century. We are always keen on the use of language and a big inhibitor for new ways of more creative, integral or lateral thinking lies in the wording of the degree we want the students of this world to obtain.

A Masters Degree teaches you exactly that: to become a Master in a certain topic. Don't get me wrong, there's a great need for experienced masters in our society, but it also means that you get taught what others long before have learned. And the educational system is obsessed with teaching students to become the masters of their trades. Then after school, we organize our businesses and lives according to the principles of the mastery. Now, that hardly seems to leave room for any alternative perspective on some of the dilemmas of our society. It was Einstein who said that "we can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."

So we need new kinds of thinking. Without going into any possibilities for that new kind of thinking, it seems to me that to allow ourselves to open our minds, we should start with changing the one thing that locks us into the current paradigm from the onset: your Masters Degree. After all: you become what you say you are. Let's suppose that in addition to mastery we need 'creativity' (as broadly defined as possible) then what does mastery+creativity change our university degree into?"

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