Zappa´s mistake: 1, 2…and 3

The music phenomena Frank Zappa ones said: ”If you want to get laid: go to a university. But if you want an education: go to a library.” He did have a point. But he forgot: the third reason to get an education. Still; could that very reason explain why this industry not (yet?) have disrupted?

Well, to be honest; Zappa actually also missed the idea about relevant knowledge and…learning. He spoke about education instead, and that can really be two very different things.

But he definitely forgot why people often actually even do education.

What nearly everyone already knows, but rarely speak about, is that there are three, neither one, nor two, reasons to get an education.

The first reason is to learn something, developing oneself. It is also the reason most educators tend to prefer talking about.

But…well, today we have the internet that eager people can use all by themselves, if interested in seriously learning something.

Enough said about that here. Just don´t forget it…the mere existence of the internet I mean.

Perhaps just put the following idea in the back of your head before looking at the other reasons…If knowledge, today, is already out there for a young eager person to just grasp…universities of today could gain something by asking themselves the following question: “how, today, to help a young person learn more, and faster, also deeper, even cheaper, compared to that person doing it by him/her-self with the help of a simple internet-connection?”

The second reason is to meet others. Socialize. Create a network. That part Zappa just nailed – perhaps just in a bit too blunt way. And he also thought about it in a way that today would feel a bit old-fashioned. Today we have Tinder instead.

A lot of libraries of today are just digital.

Physical libraries, more or less gone.

A person that ever as young have been to a campus often has a rather strong feeling of this reason. Just a bit non-updated one. So, they tell the next generation of students why this just could be ”the shit” – it also was, but not in the same way anymore.

My own former student friends, the ones that today (like me) are parents to young people going to university, the ones that, when they were young, seriously did “socializing” jointly with me during the 1980s…are typical cases of people like that.

When they were young, we had great times at the student union, we really did, and we also developed great networks we still have great use of today. So why not give the same thing to their own children today?

Well. I am really not against that idea. On the contrary. A network can be everything in life. And all of us need friends. I´m just claiming that it does not work in the same way, anymore. Life just have…changed.

A bit older people also often have a rather strong feeling of this reason. Meeting future colleagues, business partners, private partners, bosses, friends, customers early in life, like what we historically did at a university: that thing can really have value. And on top of it: having some fun at the same time as doing so is not that bad.

But in reality, today, this part is not that well provided by existing educational providers anymore. It is because: nearly everyone goes to university today, at least in economically speaking well developed countries. It is also because…today we all are digital.

We simply do not socialize in the same way, and with the same people, as before…at least not at the same places as we did before.

At this very moment it is a bit empty at a lot of campuses. Why is that the case?

And: don´t you dare to just blame COVID.

You need the right kind of network, not any kind of network. But today you also need it in a modern way.

Existing students are really not at all against socializing – they never will be. On the contrary. But why would they, today, do it at campus out of all possible places, when nearly all of their education is run digitally?

This is a call for universities of today to develop their own campuses into something far better than they are at this moment. And possible solutions actually even exist; click here.

The third reason to get an education is to get a stamp in your forehead, in order to make it easier for you later in life – for instance when applying for a job, or if interested in impressing others.

Get a diploma. A certificate. Its´ about your Credentials. It´s about standing out in the crowd – becoming a bit different than everyone else. Making it easier for yourself to end up first in line when applying for a job. We all know it. And that very thing has strong value.

To a lot of people getting a diploma has always been “the reason”.

Even the most important one.

Of course; also, Zappa knew this thing too. Perhaps he just didn’t manage to find a provocative way to address this reason in one and the same one-liner.

And in many ways…it is this reason that today explain why the educational industry still have not disrupted.

But what does then happen if everyone gets a degree? How to then stand out in the crowd?

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