Imagine being paid $100,000 not to go to school. Yoonseo Kang, of Mississauga, ON, was offered the Thiel Fellowship for his work in Open Source Ecology at age 18. The fellowship is offered yearly to 20 of the most motivated and creative young people under 20, to help them succeed in developing their ambitious ideas and projects. The fellowship only requires that recipients remain out of school for two years, but according to the Toronto Star, Kang has said that he doesn't expect he'll return to school at all.
Post-Secondary education is popularly considered a fundamental element of pursuing a career with the potential for unrestricted advancement. That reality has been changing for youths in recent years, where even entry-level positions are scarce. 'Education' seems to be redefining itself, with ambition and success developing in non-traditional forms.
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Kang's decision to forgo a computer science degree at the University of Toronto, move to Missouri and work with the Open Source Ecology project on the Global Village Construction Set shocked his parents, creating conflict with his father, now living in Korea. Not terribly surprising; what parent envisions their child never attending university?
If we continually impose a pre-determined, formalized education system on the creative, ambitious, open thinkers, will the new ideas and inventions have the same support and space to exist? Kang didn't say he'd never go back to school; and maybe he will, maybe he won't. Now he's pursuing an ambitious, hands-on education that for many, a post-secondary education never offers. The intelligent and motivated are certainly equipped to find a worthwhile education outside the lines.
Perhaps this construct is only applicable or successful for those who have the ideas, motivation and ambition to press forward independently. Many teens will build on their education, world-views and opinions during their formal, extended education, but it looks like Kang is already on his way there. $100,000 isn't a reward for not going to school, it is incentive and support for pursuing a highly alternative, tangibly productive education.
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