Why join the Navy when you can be a Pirate?Steve Jobs
(Original from January 2015 – see below for update.)
Today my youngest son Joshua, just turned four years old, has his first day at school – the start of a long journey in the formal education system. In the early hours of this morning I also really took in the implications of a decision we have made at Ubiquity University to cut ourselves free from the old dysfunctional licensing and accreditation systems and thus unleash ourselves to be able to offer the kind of higher education and adult learning that both meets the needs of a turbulent world in transition and honours the full potential of human beings to manifest our greatest passion and highest purpose.
I awoke this morning in light panic and fear. What are we thinking, giving up our Californian license to operate when we have no idea if any other accreditation will succeed? Would people really sign up for a higher education degree granted from offshore? Haven’t we just sealed our demise? I could feel the fear and contraction creep over my body and mind.
So I started to breathe properly and reminded myself why we embarked on Ubiquity in the first place. All the data is showing that human civilization is at a critical turning point. The biologists agree we are into a sixth great extinction and there is no guarantee that humanity will make it – people are generally agreed that there will be a significant die-off of homo sapiens sapiens either way. So many of us feel deep down in our bones and our souls that the way we are currently running our lives as humans and treating each other and the earth that we depend on, simply isn’t right. Yet we continue to believe we can navigate our way through with a slight upgrade to our existing systems and without too much disruption to our current lifestyles.
We are lying to ourselves and each other. We know from previous non-linear transitions such as this that only a whole systems shift will see us through to the next era. This is not just an era of change, this is a change of eras – and we need to start taking in the implications of that and acting from that reality. Is it easy? No. I know that for myself. I experience so clearly in myself the days where I sink back under the blanket of grumpy mundanity, until the discipline of one of my practices slaps me round the head and kicks me out of it. The other space is one of complete clarity and energy, not defined by worries about the past or fears of the future, but surfing the frothy edge of life unfolding moment to moment to moment. In those times I know and feel so clearly what we need to do. Today I feel alive, bursting with light and life – and I know that our choice is the right one.
We spent and ultimately wasted two years trying to get permission from the Californian licensing body to offer our new online programs, designed to meet the needs of today as identified by 1700 leaders in IBM’s global CEO study and by numerous recent studies into students’ experience of higher education. In that time we could have been getting into the market and serving our mission. Article after article is written about the demise of the current higher education system and the need for significant innovation. But who is actually doing it? No-one that I can see is really trying to go the whole way. Some are compromising their vision to fit the requirements of the accreditation bodies. Trying to offer transformational education that responds to the needs of our rapidly changing world within the confines of our current bureaucracies is like re-arranging the deck-chairs on the Titanic. Others are trying to operate outside the current system, like the MOOCs, which are still old style in their delivery mechanisms and do little if anything to actually have the students demonstrate the kind and depth of competencies needed for our times.
These times require vision and boldness. Why should a student come to get a degree from Ubiquity University? Because it is the only global higher education institute in the world that is truly picking up the gauntlet of what is needed and what people are clamoring for. It is the fact that it is a Ubiquity degree that will guarantee its quality and relevance. It is the fact that it is a Ubiquity degree that will make employers take notice. It is the fact that it is a Ubiquity degree that will demonstrate to you and others that you are serious about equipping yourself in every way to thrive in the years to come and be of service at this time.
As we boldly go where no higher education institute has gone before, we will build the new learning systems that make the old ones obsolete. I look forward to the day fourteen years into the future when Joshua can choose a learning pathway that helps him find his true vocation, where his passion meets a need in the world. Bring it on!
Update: Since I wrote this article in 2015, Ubiquity has been part of a coalition of innovative learning institutions that has created the Global Accreditation Council (see https://globalaccreditationcouncil.org). For my latest explanation of our position on accreditation see https://www.ubiquityuniversity.org/accreditation. And Joshua is now 12 (2023) and in his first year at the innovative Dutch secondary school system called Agora that I helped to develop (see https://petermerry.org/secondary-education-for-the-future-agora).
Inspired by Wolfgang Goethe:
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back– Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no-one could have dreamed would have come their way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”