“Lifelong Learning Is The Key”
Many of you may already have seen this—it was the #1 most-emailed article on the New York Times website yesterday—but it bears repeating. Thomas Friedman writes:
“Obama should stop using the phrase—first minted by Bill Clinton in 1992—that if you just ‘work hard and play by the rules’ you should expect that the American system will deliver you a decent life and a chance for your children to have a better one. That mantra really resonates with me and, I am sure, with many voters. There is just one problem: It’s out of date.
The truth is, if you want a decent job that will lead to a decent life today you have to work harder, regularly reinvent yourself, obtain at least some form of postsecondary education, make sure that you’re engaged in lifelong learning and play by the rules. That’s not a bumper sticker, but we terribly mislead people by saying otherwise.
Why? Because when Clinton first employed his phrase in 1992, the Internet was just emerging, virtually no one had e-mail and the cold war was just ending. In other words, we were still living in a closed system, a world of walls, which were just starting to come down. It was a world before Nafta and the full merger of globalization and the information technology revolution, a world in which unions and blue-collar manufacturing were still relatively strong, and where America could still write a lot of the rules that people played by.
That world is gone. It is now a more open system.
Technology and globalization are wiping out lower-skilled jobs faster, while steadily raising the skill level required for new jobs. More than ever now, lifelong learning is the key to getting into, and staying in, the middle class.
There is a quote attributed to the futurist Alvin Toffler that captures this new reality: In the future ‘illiteracy will not be defined by those who cannot read and write, but by those who cannot learn and relearn.’ Any form of standing still is deadly.” Read more here.
That’s why it’s so important that we explicitly teach children how to learn, and make sure we acquire and practice this essential skill ourselves.