Education: facts or skills?

There is an Artificial Intelligence that monitors customer service phone calls and suggests how to improve the quality of service. Cogito (owned by Open View) has trained the AI to distinguish phrases, tone and pitch of voices during customers’ calls and recognize negative notes. If the client begins to sound irritated or upset, its sends an “empathy cue” that reminds the employee to take into consideration how the client is feeling and adjust their behaviour. The purpose, according to Cogito, is to “help make individuals better versions of themselves”.

What is wrong with humans? In the world is increasingly shaped by digitalization, machine learning and artificial intelligence, the role of knowledge and access to knowledge is changing rapidly. More and more people believe in the possibilitiy of self-learning. The rising generation of “click”- knowledge is convinced of the uselessness of the classical form of learning. Knowledge and facts are put in the back seat since Google seems to be able to deliver the necessary information in less than a second. Concepts such as “fake news” and “alternative facts” are now part of our everyday vocabulary. Emotions, personal beliefs and individual truths are gaining center stage.

In Sweden trust in science has for decades been the national religion. Evidence based, well-grounded and rationally gained scientific knowledge, has been the cornerstone of much of the industrialized world’s development, and surely it has been for this little country up to the North.

Some observations, however, suggest that we might be encountering a loss of the public’s faith in science. One of the greatest myths flourishing in society is that education should no longer focus on facts, but instead on competencies and skills such as analytical thinking, teamwork, and oratory.

How, then, should a business school, that aims to be as relevant as possible, formulate its learning objectives?

Describing SSE’s educational mission - FREE, its President Lars Strannegård advocates the importance of both the cognitive and the emotional aspects of learning or as he puts it - “sense and sensibility” is the future of education, including for Executive MBA programs.

“I believe it is fair to say that knowledge is the route to truly sustainable growth and that knowledge is the solution to the global challenges we are persistently facing. However, a successful decision maker of the future will approach the world with curiosity and confidence. This decision maker is, as the philosopher Ingemar Hedenius phrased it: “free and alive in relation to the unknown”. The core competence of humans is to be human, and a successful decision maker in the future will maximize the potential of being human.” – claims Lars Strannegård.

Hence, we at SSE have formulated our overarching educational aims for a person who lives by the FREE concepts:

Fact- & science-minded
Reflective & self-aware
Empathetic & culturally literate
Entrepreneurial & responsible

"SSE graduates, like graduates of many other respected business schools, go out into the world with the wealth of knowledge in economics, finance and business administration. But SSE is positioning itself differently as a business school – less stereotypically. Through the FREE concept, the Stockholm School of Economics declares that society can expect higher standards from our Alumni: aspirations to do something that goes beyond him - or herself: an urge to contribute to a better world. SSE’s ambition is to convey to its graduates that they should be worthy winners and succeed with warmth, respect and empathy," concludes Lars Strangnegård.

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Lars Strangnegård
Lars Strangnegård