Go forward 30 or so years, I was running Europe's largest private group of companies.

Branson shares he didn't know the difference between gross and net [profit], but it didn't matter . . . what mattered was his character, whether he was good at inspiring people and motivating people, whether he  wanted to make a real difference in the world."

"I remember my frustration being young and not being listened to and I think I had every right to be frustrated. I was wasting my time sitting in a classroom doing completely irrelevant things that I had no interest in, when I wanted to be inspired, and I had to effectively create my education for myself."

Branson on being dyslexic

"I think by being dyslexic, I learnt to become a good delegator, which is a really important thing in life if you're becoming an entrepreneur and building businesses.

"I surrounded myself with wonderful people who were better than me at many things. I think I'm more creative at certain things. If [dyslexics] are able to concentrate on things they're good at, they will really excel at them." Getting letters in the right order is, by contrast, "so unimportant really".

"When I was a school kid, I struggled with dyslexia and had a hard time understanding what was being taught on the blackboard," Richard Branson shares.

"Despite this, I came up with the idea of creating a magazine that would encourage young people to advocate for a more relevant education system and to fight against injustices like the Vietnamese and Biafran Wars."

The much-needed transformation in education 

"Through the pandemic, families have had to learn to teach their kids differently than they would have done in formal education, and I suspect that for many kids, they found that a blessing," Branson says.

During an interview, Branson shared how he took his grandkids around Necker Island, and they learned about scarlet ibises and their history. They also discovered that a scarlet ibis breeding with a white ibis produces a pink ibis.

They then moved on to exploring flamingos and giant tortoises. Branson believes this type of hands-on learning is more engaging and relevant than what is typically taught in schools.

As per Branson, some individuals require a specific method of instruction, while others do not, and currently, everyone is taught in the same manner. 

Branson on Traditional Education

You don't need all that rote learning and memory skills if people want to become entrepreneurs; we'd almost prefer that they'd left school at 16.' School is so irrelevant. Let them have the university of life by being out there learning from doing things." - Richard Branson.

Branson insists there must be a total transformation in education to engage children in the digital age and prepare young people for the modern world.

His charity, Big Change, set up by his daughter Holly a decade ago in the wake of the London riots, is launching a campaign for a radical reshaping of learning in the wake of the pandemic.

He believes that exams should be more critical, preventing schools from innovating. Schools are compelled to focus solely on exams, leading to the suppression of creativity due to the exam system.

Branson shares that the focus on grades is increasingly at odds with what employers want.

Richard Branson believes that the education system instils a fear of failure and discourages risk-taking, which he considers essential for business success.

Future of Education According to Branson

According to a survey conducted by Big Change and the Institute for Public Policy Research, 79% of young people, 74% of parents, 77% of teachers, and 78% of employers believe that the pandemic presents a unique opportunity to rethink the purpose of education and improve the system.

The businessman claims that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change course.

How schools do not support creativity - Branson 

Branson says the most successful people worldwide are creative, such as musicians, entrepreneurs, and artists. However, the current education system is not designed for them. According to him, their creativity can be stifled Unless they drop out of school early.

While a few lucky ones manage to stay in school, many successful people, including Bill Gates and Larry Page, quit formal education early.

Future of work - Branson 

Branson shares his vision of a world where standardised testing is replaced by continual assessment. He suggests that people should have an education passport that showcases everything excellent that kids are doing, from academics to sports to how kind or how confident they are.

Branson believes that for most jobs, there is no need to be assessed in a formal, boring way that puts everybody in the same box.

"At the Virgin Group now, we don't ask for test results for most jobs. We look for character. It'd be hypocritical for me, who left school at 15, to judge people based on exam results. - Richard Branson

Virgin, the company led by Branson, now provides loans to young individuals who want to start their businesses instead of pursuing higher education. Branson believes these individuals can learn more about life through their own companies than they would ever learn in school or college.

Feb 21, 2024
Alternate Learning

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