For many years, working class families would tell their children that obtaining a college degree was a way out. Parents told their children, if they worked hard in school, went to college, they would get a good job and have a better life. Corporate jobs had benefits and a retirement pension, something their parents did not have.
There was hope for something bigger than themselves – a better life for their children. The story talked about how parents overcame the struggle of saving for college to ensure their children’s success.
Families repeated this story in households around the world. Our stories are important, it is how we pass down history, maintain our grounding in society, and express our fears and desires. Many stories we share were created thousands of years ago. The wisdom contained within these stories continues to have value regardless of the technology tools we use or the advances we’ve made.
However, somewhere along the way, their hero’s story changed, lost its core meaning, and then it disappeared.
Obtaining a college degree became the Holy Grail, a ticket to happiness and success. Unfortunately, this is an illusion and not realistic.
Today, children go to college, take on debt, and then keep their fingers crossed they’ll find employment. When the degree does not match everyone’s expectations, the family members feel lost and search for a story to rely upon for guidance.
The reason for this shift cannot be assigned or placed on anyone group, government policy, or action; it happened as a result of many, many, factors coming together at once.
The Hero’s Journey
Joseph Campbell was the world’s most famous mythology expert and wrote about the hero’s journey. His impact can be seen in George Lucas’s Star Wars trilogy. Lucas based the first three Star Wars movies on Campbell’s books. He spent hours with Campbell while writing the script for the first movie. Campbell wrote in The Power of the Myth, “A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.”
We are living during a time of significant change. If not the most profound time in human history. Being part of history makes it difficult for us to see the changes occurring around us. Disruption sneaks up on us. We find ourselves in a place, where there is no “Future for Dummies” to guide our way.
Often during periods of change, we alter memories of the past, blocking out the negatives to comfort ourselves as we face the unknown. We cannot let our fears prevent us from envisioning a better and positive future. In every hero’s journey, a person must walk through the dark forest, like Luke, to find themselves and overcome their fears.
Writing a New Digital Story
We must write the story together with an underlining theme of hope. The digital hero will travel down a new path. He must incorporate the modern world with wisdom gained from the past, as the old predetermine path is gone. Part of the journey will include advanced technologies, a new way of learning, and a spirit of entrepreneurship.
A powerful story about a young man or woman as they struggle to learn new technology skills using different platforms while tapping into their unique problem-solving skills to develop a story that is larger than themselves.
The goal for this post is to highlight the disappearance of a story central to a large segment of society and bring attention to the importance of writing a new story. Our narrow focus on college being the Holy Grail of success is incorrect and taking us down a wrong path. A person’s success is determined by many factors and education is one component.
I believe learning and education are critically important. Learning should continue throughout a person’s life. It is a lifelong process. “Go to College, Life Will Be Good” is an empty statement and provides no foundation for building an authentic story for the future.