So much of what’s happening today is all about the pain and collateral damage resulting from the passage of the “me” generation to the “we” generation. People who understand this, like Tina Seelig (see video below of her work at Stanford preparing students to hit the ground running with world-class collaborative skills), are already in the “action” phase of this transition. Those who don’t – including the vast majority of administrators at educational establishments preparing to push another generation of “me”-prepped teenagers into tertiary education – will eventually get the message when sky-rocketing unemployment figures confirm the bankruptcy of their business as usual mindsets and banks start balking at giving easy credit to students for degrees which society deems useless.

Tina Seelig on CNBC – Collaboration Now Video

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Lewis Lapham, in last month’s Harpers, refers to the products of our best universities as achievetrons whose principal distinguishing characteristic is a deep aversion to challenging the rules of the status quo.

“For the past sixty years the deputies assigned to engineer the domestic and foreign policies of governments newly arriving in Washington have come outfitted with similar qualifications – first-class schools, state-of-the-art networking, apprenticeship in a legislative body or a think-tank – and for sixty years they have manged to weaken rather than strengthen the American democracy, ending their terms of office as objects of ridicule if not under threat of criminal arrest.” Universities, he says, have “accepted their mission as way stations on the pilgrim road to enlightened selfishness.”

The backlash against this system is already underway. As Sandra Tsing-Loh puts it so neatly in The Atlantic: “the high-water days of the $50,000-a-year liberal-arts education are drawing to a close”.

So what will take its place and how do we – as the transition generation – bridge the gap between these two worlds?

Aside from working harder on our “we” skills – collaborating, facilitating, organizing – I can’t help going back to a piece of advice overheard at a high school career forum: “Do what you love and the rest will work itself out.”

I love the simplicity of that statement – which contains in its kernel the key elements which 2.0 wisdom has brought back to the table, notably the importance of passion-driven learning and improvisation.

Oh, and I can’t wait to read Tina’s new book “What I Wish I Knew When I was 20 – A Crash Course on Making Your Way in the World,” due out in April.

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