Quality education is seldom free, even in an informal setting. To be a blacksmith, one has to spend years in a dark and humid forge, under the tutelage of a master. Likewise, anyone wanting to pursue most other professions also need to commit time, energy and money to seek training. My beef is with trainers and educators who extort inordinate fees, without imparting an equivalent amount of skill or knowledge.
We've seen those ads. $2000 for a 'get-rich'quick' trading course. $500 for a 3-hour 'internet-marketing work-from-home' class. $3500 for a two day coding workshop that promises a high paying programming job. And the reason for these prices? A graduate would be able to command a higher salary or income from the market immediately afterwards, whether in the job, financial or eCommerce markets.
Evidence do suggest that, of course. It isn't uncommon to find a 6-digit-per-year job in the gentrified tech towns of Silicon Valley, or a 7-digit-bonus job in Wall Street. But the difference is, most of these people have gone through the traditional academic route, taking on a proper degree in computer science in an Ivy League school, or spending tons of money in an MBA programme. Some employers in tech companies are skeptical of coding school graduates, since they might end up doing more harm than good, especially in team projects. Similarly, it isn't easy to game financial markets or join institutions that usually hire the brightest talent from the best schools only.
But that doesn't mean we write off these new education providers. The established educational institutions are due for a disruption, and there's a lot of new ways to learn these days outside of a lab or classroom, at a lower price but with equal or better quality.
1. Online Courses
Sure, I might be biased in my support for platforms that help anyone in the world to conduct educational webinars. And yes, I know that it lacks that mechanism to handle immediate feedback or questions. But with online education marketplaces, students get to learn from the best in the world (or at least whoever is on the platform). They are no longer limited to a professor or teacher who got assigned by 'the school administrator to a class, and in some cases, actually pretty crappy at conducting a class.
Then there's the review mechanism, which helps weed out the poor trainers. As more students attend the online classes, they give ratings to trainers and courses. The best ones are further promoted by the platform, and the lousy ones get left behind. Students benefit from excellent education, and the best trainers are financially rewarded and encouraged to come up with more great content.
2. Online Tutorials / Guides
Want to learn coding? Save on the one-day workshop and just Google "Java coding tutorial" (or whatever platform / language you want to learn from). There are plenty of excellent, step-by-step guides with screenshots and videos that teach beginners how to code from scratch - from the initial step of downloading the software needed all the way to building a full-fledged chat app. It's as easy as following instructions on what to do, while understanding the purpose of the commands.
Here's just a few decent ones that showed up on a simple Google search:
Similarly for financial literacy courses, which some training centres charge thousands of dollars for a day-long workshop, promising massive returns if the students commits to the programme. Forex trading, value investing, options etc... the list goes on. For the financial novice, there are loads of resources online available for free!
3. The Library
Singapore has one of the most modern libraries in the world, with a massive collection that is constantly updated. Today, it also stocks loads of eBooks, so readers do not even need to step out of home to browse and borrow books.
Books have traditionally been the medium of education, not educators. Everything from cooking, art, finances and IT can be learned from books. In fact, home brewers do not pick up the skills of making beer from a training centre (since there are none in Singapore!) - so many novices are directed to get a copy of this book to get started.
So it's clear I don't particularly support overpriced private training courses. I have another beef with the private tuition scene and what it does to the learning mindset of a child, but that's another post for another day. My point is, there's plenty of good people in this world that has developed free or cheap courses to share their knowledge, and in more effective ways. Save your hard-earned money, support these folks and their effort in making the tutorials, and stop buying into the Big Education Con!
About this blog
Mostly startup and tech stuff. An occasional rant or two. Travel-related articles are published on my other blog.