As for the internal force, both of us, the co-founders of EWOR, have been disappointed by the European education system. Europe clearly prepares us for academic and theoretical careers, excellently so, but does not for practical matters such as entrepreneurship and business. Computer science, too, which is on the intersection of practice and theory, suffers because of our overly theoretical education. The list goes on.
What do we mean exactly? The way we learn is simple. We have a curriculum, work through the curriculum, may apply it in a couple of theoretical settings and eventually complete an exam just to start with the next curriculum. We do so until our period of education is completed, may it be a bachelor’s or master’s degree, just to notice that in practice 95% of what we learned is irrelevant to our specific case.
As entrepreneurs, we learn differently. We do first and study afterwards. When we’ve experienced the task or problem first hand, our brain will retain the knowledge differently. It will firstly store it longer and secondly connect it to a practical event. Knowledge becomes implicit and action-driven. (Epstein, 2019).
To give a concrete example, I once endeavoured to create a tool that helps people lose weight. I had no idea of how this tool might look like and what it should do, and mostly wanted to leverage the knowledge I had gained as a coach in a scalable technical manner. The literature on doing so is way too vast and complex to be absorbed, so I decided to experiment with bot-technology. I researched the tools out there and built an initial chat bot on Dialogflow, an API built by Google. After playing around for several hours, I had a clear idea of what my chat bot should do. I phoned a couple of friends who were experienced in developing to verify my hypothesis and only then did I start to consume online content on bot building. I did a couple of video tutorials on backend development to understand the system architecture, as the endeavoured solution needed a webhook, a REST API and a Redis database, all of which were cryptic words to me back then. I didn’t even have to learn front-end development, such as coding in js, HTML, CSS, PHP or Java, because my architecture automatically integrated with Facebook, which supplied the front-end. Did I have to do a computer science bachelor to do this? Definitely not, it took me less than a month to acquire the skills necessary. Interestingly, I ran a similar project with master’s students from ETH Zurich later on, just to learn that they knew less about bot development than I did. They’ve learned a ton of maths and solved difficult theoretical problems, but none of them had much experience with practical use cases. This is one example of as to why the current education system fails, and why the most innovative countries in the world rarely translate their knowledge into practical, entrepreneurial endeavours.
With the world changing quicker and quicker these days, this notion of education becomes even more relevant. YouTube videos often display complex content in a much better manner than university lecturers. Lessons on Coursera and edX are mostly free and provide education at least as good as physical universities. Simultaneously, knowledge doubles every 12 months. Compared to the philosopher of the middle-age who was skilled in all of the disciplines out there, being an expert on every single subject has become factually impossible. Yet most importantly, we don’t need to. Jobs in the real world are about solving problems, and to solve those problems we need to become quick, adaptive learners, who absorb new knowledge and content quickly, but only that which is relevant to the problem at hand.
EWOR is about this new way of education.