Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. - Nelson Mandela
I love the arts, and I enjoy programming and design, but in the end, there's one field where I want to have the greatest impact in life. My heart always goes back to education.
I've talked about my qualms about education as an industry and a right numerous times on this blog and elsewhere. It comes down to my belief in the importance of student autonomy.
I learned the bulk of what I know as a professional in software, design, and marketing by teaching myself, not through classroom instruction, and I've found that the process of identifying problems and creating solutions by myself to be far more "educational" than sitting in classrooms and lecture halls. I don't discredit the value of traditional education, but I do think the culture of education needs to escape the tunnel vision of defining quality education in such a narrow way, and instead leave room for high-achieving students to have more autonomy in their learning process, identifying problems they want to work on and pursuing solutions independently, to learn by doing.
This doesn't mean we shouldn't remove clearly defined curricula or stop valuing teachers and mentors, but I think the value of directed instruction can be amplified when students have motivation and intrinsic understanding of what and how they learn, and why the want to. To make this possible, as a culture, we need to start thinking of education as a student-driven process rather than a system defined from the top down.
Reforming how we think about education is the greatest, longest-term mission of my life. It's not just about the talent of creative people going to waste, or the shifting nature of the economy and the failure of our education system to adapt to it (though these are both valid sentiments).
It's about ensuring more students the right to feel the happiness of finding and solving problems they care about, and learning something new in the process. I live for that joy of learning more about how to become a better person to the world, and I hope to gift that joy to as many people I can as possible.