# 179: Education and Money
Story behind the Passage
Let us keep it very simple: Everything is about money in this world and this even strikes people who did believe in the pragmatic function of capitalism. This is more or less what a friend of mine said yesterday in a short talk she gave. I caught myself agreeing. I am sick of seeing institutions die that have educated and thus developed and helped generations of leaders. And they die simply because they believed that quality would survive and that marketing is for people who do not have clients. But this is not true anymore. Those who have understood digital business creation are surviving and making a lot of money. This is how it is. In short: Stupidity keeps being on the rise.
Yes, it sounds harsh. But I do mean it.
This is the background to why I looked up the passage in Rekesh Khurana’s book today. Khurana was one of the major sources in my last book. What he says about the higher education system in the U.S., particularly about the business schools, is highly illuminating and valuable. The passage above occurs in the chapter on the “Invention of the Business School.” As you probably know, business schools are still big cash cows for universities. And I am not criticizing this in any way. What I am describing today is actually confirming their value. What education facilities, arts and cultural institutions, as well as NGOs need is exactly this: business know how.
“In particular, the structural and normative characteristics undergirding these three institutions served to bridge the gulf between the traditional and industrial orders.” I am picking this sentence because it seems to say so little in such a convoluted way. Yet, I think, it is exactly getting to the heart of what I am thinking about so much. With the digital revolution and the disruption of traditional industries, we are seeing the practical death of “traditional” orders. By the way, the university is also victim of this. Many have just not realized it yet. In other words, at least, this is how I interpret it, these changes also go along with fundamental changes in the education system.
If this is the case, I wonder how much we can learn from the previous industrial revolutions. I especially mean the turn of the 20th century. I am convinced that history holds answers to our present conditions which we have not fully taken into account. This is partly because the people studying these issues are not loud enough or not being listened to. Again, there is no blaming involved, this is how it is right now. People win who have the financial ability to market whatever they have to say. And marketing mostly means reaching the masses. This is how you win customers.
Once more, this makes me feel like I am going in circles. I am looking for answers in the past. I am considering research as a means to problem solving. I do believe in this but I am also not satisfied. If we really take this one sentence and the entire passage seriously, we also have to assume that some things are destroyed irreversibly. This also means: We cannot automatically assume that we find all the answers in the past, no matter how much we also know that history repeats itself and life basically goes around in everlasting cycles of renewal. So, we need more than just looking at the past — and we need this quickly, even urgently.
Maybe I am panicking a bit too much and maybe I am again making the mistake of helping others before helping myself. Actually, since I am aware of this, I can also change it. It does not change the fact itself, just the order. I also know that helping people, as you can read in Buddha’s wisdom, is a very selfish endeavor that leads nowhere. So, let me just replace “helping” with spending my time wisely and with pleasure. This is actually what I want to do so desperately. And the fact that this takes me back to research is kind of unsatisfying because with everything I have been doing recently I was trying to get aware from mere “theory.”
But I know this is too much black and white thinking.
Since I have found out how important education is for me, there will always be an element of theory and research in all this. So, there is no news, really. I just have to check my personal business model. Am I the one researching knowledge about business models to teach others or am I the one implementing them? I am reaching the point where I understand that you might not be able to do both. If this is so, where is my heart? Obviously, my lines here indicate the answer already….
1) What do you think about the quality of education nowadays?
2) Can the digital transformation destroy healthy businesses or is it a sign that these businesses did not read the signs of the future and therefore rightfully need run out of business?
3) Do you think that studying the past can offer solutions for business problems of the present?