The folly of credentials

April 10, 2018 by Joshua
in Education

Our educational system has evolved to deliver credentials—diplomas, your GPA, honors, and such. Even business plan competitions act like credentials.

Credential comes from a root meaning trust. Schools credentials say, “trust us, we vouch for this person for finishing our requirements.”

But academic values of compliance, factual recall, abstract analysis, test-taking skills, and so on aren’t as valuable as they were for a century or so when being a “knowledge worker” was valuable. Now that information is ubiquitous. As computers increasingly replicate intellectual tasks, those values and that trust means less than ever.

Customers don’t buy from you because of your credentials. They buy from you because your product or service improves their lives more than the money you charge for it. Increasingly employers won’t hire you for your credentials but for your ability to perform.

Active, social, emotional, expressive, performance-based fields have long worked this way.

Artists and athletes perform in auditions. No one gets wins an Oscar or championship for his or her GPA. Like their fans, your colleagues and customers care about your performance—can you learn their unmet needs and solve them?

Life outside school doesn’t have bubble tests. Relying on them distracts from learning that prepares students for what life does have.

a diploma

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