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Why Education Is Broken – The PhD

According to the current structure of education if Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Richard Branson Mark Zuckerberg or Thomas Edison came and taught at a university they would actually hurt the rankings.  You see these guys were university drop outs.  They don’t even have a bachelors degree, never mind a PhD.

The top of the food chain in terms of policy and planning are PhDs in the academic world.  This is an “exclusive” club that guys like Steve, Bill, Richard, Mark and Albert can’t join.  These guys would get relatively junior positions working in education in the middle east and their ideas are not likely to be heard.  The academics are deciding what the next generation should be learning, not the entrepreneurs.

If Bill, Steve and the gang sacrificed 3 to 5 years out of the real world of creating jobs and inventing new things to go into academia they would be able to have more influence on policy in government or finally begin a career in teaching at a university.

The myth is that the more degrees you have the more qualified you are to tell the next generation what to do.  From having worked with many PhDs – and I apologize if I generalize here – but they are impractical people for the real world.  They over analyze decisions.  They are great at producing documents because that is what they have been taught.   The more paperwork, the better.   Not many PhDs are granted if at the end of the dissertation the student comes back with a one pager on how to change the world.  Instead they need to make that one pager in to over 100 pages.

This was fair enough when their wasn’t too much information in the world.  There used to be a lot fewer books.  Now though the world wants to know less, not more.  We use Google so we can visit less websites, quicker.  In the new economy how many people you can influence with your ideas is more important than producing things that no one reads.

How do you pass a PhD?  You supervisor and a handful of people decide if your work is good enough.  Essentially they are seeing if you actually did the work.

How do you make a successful business?  The world decides by voting with their wallets if they want to buy your products or services.  If you produce something impractical, you go hungry.  If you produce something the world loves, you make loads of money.  Unlike a PhD, it doesn’t matter if you did the work or you got someone else to do it.  As long as it was done.

I see many of the ambitious people in the Arab world decide to pursue a PhD rather than start a business.  This means financing either from their parents or the government for 3 to 5 years.  No jobs are created.  No real wealth is created.  Instead what they have is a stable job in government after receiving the letters “Dr.” in front of their names.  A burden to the tax payer (or a drain on the oil money if you are in the middle east).

Henry Mintzberg, a management guru, wrote “Managers not MBAs” and I agree with him that MBAs are also over-rated.  I’d like to write the follow-up book called: “Entrepreneurs not PhDs”.

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About Amir Anzur

Webpreneur. Learnaholic. Teacher. Dean at Webpreneur Academy.com.

3 Comments

  1. yeah ur absolutely right,
    as a matter of fact am from kind of an arab country ,and am struggling to prouve it !
    I guess PHDs seem a lot safer !
    they could invest their time ,energy and most of all “creativity” in being innovative ..
    Too bad ,innovation doesn’t seem safe 🙂

  2. You dam ignorant, this post sucks, you do not have a clue about anything, Albert Einstein earned a PhD and he was a dam good professor at Princeton,
    READ before posting crap!!

    • Hey Upsetaboutthis,

      thanks for your comment and you are absolutely right – Einstein did have a PhD. I meant to write “Thomas Edison” who did not have one. Please correct me if I am wrong Edison as well.

      I’ve taken the liberty of correcting the blog post and replaced “Einstein” with “Edison”.

      Appreciate you taking the time to let me know!

      Amir (the ignorant guy).

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