The 21st Century Skill

The classroom has poorly imitated what it means to learn and instead teach conformity of knowledge rather than curiosity in understanding. Students are taught to follow the narrow path of obedience and submit to arbitrary guidelines and marking criterias.

Most people graduate university with the same set of skills and the only deviation being the print on the graduation certificate and the jobs they get access to. Because of this out-dated approach, schools kill curiosity.

If you search up the average number of books people read a year, the average is 12 books. But, this figure represents bookworms who spike the figure. The median books read is 4 per year.

Knowledge Explosion

Yet, the expansion of human knowledge is comparable to the rapid expansion of the universe.

In 1982, Buckminster Fuller created the "Knowledge Doubling Curve", which noticed that until 1900 human knowledge doubled approximately every century. By the end of World War II, knowledge was doubling every 25 years.

And according to predictions by IBM, the build out of the "internet of things" has lead to the doubling of knowledge every 12 hours in 2020. This accelerating knowledge explosion is bound to see the doubling of knowledge every 1-2 hours in only a few years time.

Fuller's Knowledge Doubling Curve

All the while, never before have humans been able to access information from their fingertips. The creation of the internet has surely contributed to this expansion. People are able to simultaneously share and consume insights on Twitter, read and update articles on Wikipedia and undergo online courses on Udemy and teach skills on platforms such as SkillShare.

So if there's any skill to re-invested into, it should be loving the process of learning. The internet has brought about the democratisation of ideas and no longer do people need to invest thousands of dollars to dabble in Ancient Greek History or Data Science at university. The only barrier to entry is time spent on Googling and desire to devour content and practice.

Don't Just Learn, Learn Rapidly

This doesn't stop at just learning. In the 21st century we need to rapidly learn quality information to acclimate to our 21st century accelerating library of knowledge.

The growth of information has surely increased the complexity of the next big thing. Average is over. With ventures such as Amazon pioneering e-commerce to Facebook shifting the way we communicate, online solutions to problems are becoming more nuanced and complex.

Low-hanging fruit ideas borne from the creation of the internet are becoming scarce and big opportunities may soon only be found inside what are currently niche industries that are constantly changing. The only way to keep up is through constantly learning.

How to learn something new every day

  • Get into the habit of reading by scheduling time in.
  • Build a network of go-to experts and ask questions.
  • Become a member of an association related to your work and initiate networking.
  • Learn by teaching someone else.
  • Conduct your own research and investigations.
  • Go to the library and explore the shelves.
  • Observe what’s happening around you.
  • Evaluate and reflect on what you’ve learned.
  • Apply what you’ve learned.

Resources for continued learning:

  • Read online articles from experts on platforms like Medium.
  • Analyse and critique case studies.
  • Subscribe to publications specific to your areas of interest.
  • Make time to connect with a global network of people using LinkedIn, Social Media and Email.
  • Attend training courses and events at places such as General Assembly.
  • Try MOOCS (Massively Open Online Courses) such as Course era and Udemy.
  • Listen to podcasts and watch TED videos.

After all, as wisely said by Albert Einstein,

“Intellectual growth should commence at birth and only cease at death”.

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