Is Traditional Education Broken?

You remember the mantra your parents told you – pay attention in school and you will succeed! Sit at the front of the class, remember what the teacher tells you and make sure you get good grades. Then secure yourself a place at a good university, graduate, and all of this will lead to success and happiness. Right?

Well no, as it happens, not quite.

The big success stories in the technology age suggest otherwise. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, they all dropped out of school. That’s also not to say that these exceptions make the rule, but it does show us that something in the well-worn path of the traditional education system just isn’t working anymore. So why is that?

As Google’s head of Engineering Ray Kurzweil often likes to point out, the world is moving forward at an ever increasing rate, and the primary driver is innovation and technology.

Traditional universities provide an academic form of learning, which teaches people to think, and that is valuable. I think it’s safe to say that we all know the internet is hardly a consistent source of academically objective wisdom, but it does offer a richness, a tapestry of the human consciousness. And scattered among the gifs of kittens, there are ideas and technologies and movements that are changing the world as we know it.

The tech world is moving so fast in fact, that according to a recent article in Inc, Aaron Skonnard says it best, ” in such a quickly evolving industry, information decays at a rate of 30 percent a year”¦ rendering nearly a third of last year’s tech-related knowledge irrelevant.”

That means for large slow-moving organizations like a traditional university, they simply aren’t agile or nimble enough to rapidly respond to the needs of the rapidly changing workplace.

According to some amazing stats from, in the next 5 years in America there will 1.4 million jobs in tech. However, the current education system will only provide 400,000 grads, so we’re roughly a million Comp Sci graduates short of a picnic.

But that’s not the only problem. The other problem is that university courses are made up of Modules and Electives and Cores and Points and Credits. It’s essentially a wonderful game whereby you have to fill up the required points in your brain tank, for a degree, or a certificate, or whatever piece of paper you happen to be paying for.

The learning programs are therefore often peppered and substituted with content that frankly in today’s world is either unnecessary or irrelevant. It takes too long and costs too much for the benefit it offers in return.

Because in the meantime, as we all know, students are playing a costly game of credits and points for pieces of paper that won’t actually help them in the real world. As this game drags on, they are paying rent and not earning money – a double hit to the finances that over the course of multiple years at university, can start to get pretty out of hand, and for many becomes a heavy burden of debt.

To balance this argument, we should add that a university or college education is not entirely irrelevant. For many in the sciences and in healthcare it is essential. Indeed in general, it teaches people to think, and it provides a solid foundation for our future continued learning – that in this world we need to commit to, if we’re to stay in step with the technological progress of the times.

But for most us, the Relevant Learning bit is really the point of education, not the gaining of credits or points or beautifully designed pieces of paper, which clearly didn’t make even the tiniest bit of difference to many of today’s tech billionaires.

Tech business owners, who are leading the charge in terms of the world’s economic growth, they don’t care about your piece of paper. Or how many points or grades or modules or electives you have. No one cares. The important question is, can you do the job?

That’s why we started RED. We came from the tech industry and we get it. We want to bridge this gap. We want to teach our students the skills and technologies they need to succeed in today’s fast changing digital economy, and do it efficiently and intensively so that our graduates can get out there and start contributing and creating, and perhaps most importantly, earning money themselves. Whether that means building their own online businesses, or getting a job and being a valuable part of Canada’s growing tech industry.

You won’t find any tenured professors here – our staff all come from the industry, many splitting their time between teaching and working in the real world, so we stay current and we keep our finger on the pulse of what is really happening.

Startup Stock Photos

You also won’t find any costly, ineffective lecture theatres that cram in hundreds of people. Our classes are small, and we focus on providing our students with properly structured, intensive, hands-on, self-directed learning programs, where the focus is on you, the student, and on learning the skills and technologies that are relevant in the industry today.

There are only 40 places at the school, and we carefully pick our students so that we create a truly motivated learning environment. Our ratio of staff to students is six to one, so that students can ask questions and delve deeper when they need to, and hear it first-hand without being drowned out in a sea of other students.

Thanks also to our network of hiring partners, we can talk directly with the market. We invite them in for coffees or beers (depending on the time of day), and we talk about what they need, and we make sure our programs are consistently providing that.

We want to hear from people who really want to learn, and who want to succeed in today’s digital economy. If you’re interested in finding out more, drop us a line or an email and let’s talk about what you want to learn.

Picture of Colin Mansel
Colin Mansell

Colin is the CEO / Managing Director of RED Academy. He originally started his career as a classically trained musician and sound engineer, before switching to the tech industry where he has been working for the past 15 years. While he sounds British, don’t let that accent fool you; his roots are Dutch, and he calls Amsterdam his hometown.

Also the founder of Drive Digital, one of Western Canada’s biggest digital agencies, Colin is inspired by watching people create and seeing them find fulfillment in doing something they believe in. Colin is excited by the idea that the Internet connects us all, increasing transparency and accountability. He strongly believes that purpose is a bigger driver in people than profit, which will lead us to a better, fairer, more conscious world – values that dictate the foundation of RED.

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Vancouver 778 379 7175

Toronto 647 793 2333

Vancouver 778 379 7175

Toronto 647 793 2333


aaand it's done!
thank you.