When I was in high school I would get in trouble for talking too much in class. "Badinage," my English teacher would say sternly. "Mindless chatter." The thing was, I was a solid student eager to do well but I just didn't enjoy classroom learning. Sitting still while being lectured was so painful at times. I even tried unsuccessfully to talk my parents into letting me skip college.
In the middle of my senior year at Dartmouth I realized I had finally had it with school. I went to the dean and asked to withdraw. He referred me to the school psychologist because, he said, he was concerned that I didn't love school. We quickly came to an agreement and I finished one term early and still got my diploma.
The thing is, I have found my own way to become a lifelong student without ever stepping in a classroom again: I became a journalist, and my workplace is like a school without lectures.
Blockchain, and especially its application as cryptocurrency, is a fascinating example of something I can relate to: ordinary people practicing autodidactism. Most people who mine or buy or makes a purchase with crypto had to learn about crypto on their own. What was that first pizza purchase, anyway, but a test of a theory found in a white paper?
As blockchain and crypto have grown over more than a decade, the ecosystem has become increasingly complex. Think about the policy issues that must be addressed legally. What about the environmental issues, creative applications and the promise of reshaping a more equitable society?
All these people and the ones to come will not all teach themselves. As teens go to college, they are forming crypto clubs and showing interest in being taught blockchain. But university curriculums are slow to change, and blockchain is transforming every day. That’s why we’re seeing blockchain research centers and industry/university collaborations on projects. Universities are doing what they can to keep up.
There’s a sense of futility for some critics, who think universities are the wrong institution for teaching blockchain given the industry's anti-establishment bent. But for others, universities make sense, with adjustments.
Crypto is a place for students like me who had trouble with the formalities of school, but also for those who thrive. Open source technology welcomes all kinds.
All week CoinDesk will be looking at how blockchain is taught and how it is learned, and increasingly, whether there will be jobs for all the people who have gained this newfound knowledge.