As I drove to work one day a few years back I read the following on the billboard of a local drug store:
Sweatshirts $5 or 3 for $10
And then as I remembered that the middle school in my district still required every 8th grade student to make a sweatshirt, I thought:
Why are we teaching that skill to our kids when they can buy three for $10 here? There is no future there. They can’t even make minimum wage doing that and we can’t compete with a $5 sweatshirt.
I’m not an economist, but I know that when things are not scarce, their value drops. There was an over abundance of sweatshirts and a company somewhere in the world willing to make them cheap and still make a profit, even at 3 for $10. So when I read Seth Godin’s piece this morning about the shift that has occurred around the surplus of information, I have to ask the following question:
Why do we continue to teach and test our students on the amount of information they know? Information is the equivalent of the $5 sweatshirt. Common. Available. Cheap. Our students won’t be able to collaborate in a world when all they know is information because they will never know enough information to be of value.
Instead, we need teach and test our students on their ability to find, vet, assimilate, create, unlearn and reconstruct information? That’s the currency of the modern day job market. That’s the value we can bring to an organization. Systems can be created to house and organize information, but the person who can creatively use that information to change the paradigm is scarce. That’s where the value lies, not in the information itself. It’s time we taught toward value, and away from surplus.