There is this vast divide in the world today separating the haves and have-nots. The haves control our institutions and are at the forefront of new innovation, and the latter are enablers of the haves.
Most of us have heard of institutions such as MIT or Stanford and all the breakthroughs coming from there, and on the same breath, we are aware of figures such as Elon Musk or Bill Gates. Or maybe the lesser-known but important names such as James Gosling and Dennis Ritchie. Disclaimer, I am in Tech, so I may have cited people in my field a bit here.
But what do these people all have in common apart from being in Tech and having some relation to the US and Canada?
Answer: They all had the privilege to utilize more resources concerning their quest than anyone else.
And to a large extent, their schooling had much to do with it. This should not be misconstrued to say that the universities they attended made them who they are. Not quite. But I mean that schooling as a learning endeavour did. And the more exclusive the nature of this education, the better.
There are a few other ways for humans to learn outside schooling. And the type, quality and culture offered in the school are critical aspects to who the person will become.
What most successful people also have in common outside great schools is access to people who are complementary to them who also happen to school there.
Success is so hard because so many things typically have to fall in place for one ideal to actualize. This very truth has birthed the usage of luck to be wrapped around these people. And we can’t fault attributing it to them.
People like Gates and Musk come from enabling environments, sure. But they also had to be in enabling institutions to go that much further. It’s all in culture, background and environment.
If Silicon Valley is an area where Tech is encouraged, then Tech is the culture of Silicon Valley. Therefore the people who reside there will have more understanding and a higher tolerance for Tech than people elsewhere, on average. It’s that simple.
And the people there can build and scale any Tech related enterprise better than anyone else, anywhere, on average.
The world celebrates leaders. And they are tech leaders!
It is not about the individuals’ intelligence but about the environment. And schools are central to it all. They are enablers.
Think of culture as an enabler of behaviour. Even the supply chain is tightly linked to culture.
Here’s one anecdote: in South Africa, data is expensive, and now the ISP providers are also trying to charge us for notifications. Push freaking notifications! And all of this is encouraged and forgotten. But, the issue is that we become it.
Either you address something or risk becoming it!
Let me digress a bit.
To say that every child is bright would not be an exaggeration. The question of why one ends here and the other there is often mainly attributed to talents. Well, I don’t know.
I do know that if the environment is supportive, then so are the odds for all the kids to thrive. And for as many as possible to find their own set of wings.
I believe that it is about stimulation. And this is particularly true for children. It is about stimulation! As early as possible!
But I mentioned schools, so let’s explore why some are inducive and others not.
I believe it is about tolerance. It is the tolerance that people have and their attitudes to education.
Let’s study the African continent, a world playing catch up with the globe somehow. What has placed us where we are?
This question has several tiers. But culture remains largely a leading factor. Africa almost feels it has to contend with the fact that the world is going a certain way and that it has to tag along: even to the detriment of its ways of life. Here we call it being ‘Westernized’, and even that is not a term we invented.
Africa, for instance, was largely an agrarian society deeply rooted in nature and the natural order. Animals included. We were about balancing that. And it conformed to how life evolved here.
But we have demonized that way and attempted to reintegrate ourselves to standards outside.
Let me clarify that STEM(Science, Tech, Engineering and Maths)as a standard is for everyone and is no nation’s particular invention. True!
However, STEM as a form of education and way of life exists on a certain level, a professional level. And everyone can tune in to it.
But! Before we get there, we have foundations that enable us to attenuate its severity. It’s a complex skill to attain, but our ways of life could afford us ample opportunities to rise to it.
STEM is found in nature. But now, since we have lost our culture, we have also closed ourselves to the clues presented to us. Our schooling is hindered this way.
My initial idea behind writing this post was to place Western education on a pedestal, but as I have commenced, I have learned that education is a universal truth of life.
The issue is that it needs to be seen as great again.
Maybe each world, i.e. continent or culture, should remember its origins because in it lies its truth. The knowledge of a tree lies in its roots.
New opportunities will present themselves, and people will have to show novelty. And for this day to come, people must be prepared; they should have reconciled themselves well and grounded themselves in education. That way, they can sell stories.
And people will be willing to pay
We need to make education great again. And that starts with making schools great again.
The moment there is a sinister agenda, we have lost it again. And the consequence of that is this mess that we find ourselves in.
The story was never meant to benefit one nation to the detriment of the other. Sometimes the zero-sum game is a convenient theory for the victor to downplay their own corruption.
In reality, great schools are grounded in the wisdom of their community. And that is what they bring to the world.
And if dominant technologies take center stage, then all will participate, but knowing where their education stems from.