The Education Continuum – 3 States Of Education

By Shawn Dexter / April 13, 2017

In the past couple of months, I’ve been engaging with several of the SkipMBA readers over email. The conversations have been extremely fruitful.  That’s when I realized that we had officially transitioned up the Education Continuum. We transitioned from a state of “independence” to “interdependence”. The implications of this is huge! 


As many of you know, I put together a Free Career Boosting Blogging Course last week.  Other than the obvious reason of boosting your career — I put that course together so that we can take our conversations from Email to Blogging.  Why? To facilitate our growth in the final state of the Education Continuum — interdependence.  But first, let’s begin with understanding what I mean by the “Education Continuum”


The Education Continuum

Dr. Stephen Covey details the Maturity Continuum in his book – The 7 Habits Of Effective People. In it he discusses how the effective person moves up the maturity continuum from a state of dependence to a state of interdependence.

I want to borrow from Stephen Covey’s maturity continuum and apply it to our education: The Education Continuum. I believe we sequentially go through three states of education in our lives. Some of us never proceed past the first state, while some of us cling strongly to the second state not realizing that there’s a third (and more effective) state. 

Let’s go over the three states: Dependence, Independence & Interdependence​

Educational Dependence 

Everyone begins their education journey in a state of “dependence”. In this stage we rely on someone else to facilitate our education. Whether we’re learning to speak our first words at home or write our first letters at kindergarten – we depend on someone else to show us the way.


Educational Depedence

This dependence on our instructors stretches well into the later stages of schooling. During our time at highschool, college & university years we attain a semblance of independence. We get to choose – to some extent – our discipline of study and courses. Yet, we are largely still dependent. We depend on the syllabus, structure & outline of the material, and the competence of our instructors.

We finally graduate and many of us feel a sense of “freedom”. Some of us get jobs and some of us don’t. But either way, the freedom is a lie and deep down we can feel it. Unsatisfied with the fruits of the effort — we place blame upon those whom we depended on. Moreover, entering the workforce brings its own set of challenges like discrimination. In such situations, tackling a discriminatory work environment can be disheartening. Seek support and address these issues to ensure equal opportunities for everyone.

Those who don’t find jobs: “You didn’t prepare me” “You taught me outdated material” “You put be in debt” “It’s because of you that I didn’t get a job”

Those who did find jobs: “You didn’t train me”  “You didn’t guide my career”  “You made me obsolete in the workforce”

The fact that we can so easily blame someone else, implies that we too easily depended on someone else.​

Educational Independence

MyTEFL reviews state that in this stage we break free of the shackles of dependence. We stop placing blame. We realize that we alone are culpable for our education.

“I need to take responsibility for my education – not my teachers”“I am responsible for my career growth – not my manager”“I will choose my career path — not my boss”“I am responsible for putting food on my family’s plate – not the corporation I work for”

We seize control of our education and steer our growth in the direction we choose. We don’t rely on schools or corporations to teach us what we need to learn. We seek out information and arm ourselves with the knowledge we believe we need.


Therein lies the primary distinction between dependence and independence when pertaining to education. In the state of dependence, we are armed with knowledge that someone else believes we need.

In the state of independence, we arm ourselves with the knowledge we believe we need. But past the state of independence is a final state. A state that transcends us to Masters of our education.

Educational Interdependence

You arrive at the final state when you educate yourself interdependently. You don’t depend on anyone, but you’re not working purely independently either. You dictate your own educational path – but you do so alongside peers with similar interests. You form “Mastermind Groups” to brainstorm and share ideas. You critique and help each other grow. By taking control of your own path but still working with fellow peers, you push yourself past to levels you thought not possible..


“The whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts”​

​Interdependence is often confused with dependence. Instead of embracing it, we run away from it. And it’s simply because many misunderstand “interdependence” for “dependence”. This innocent misunderstanding leads to selfish actions.

Those who are fiercely independent are particularly vulnerable to this ailment. We see examples of them often at school & work. They hold so strongly to notions of independence that they alienate themselves – not helping those around them grow. And in the process – they stunt their own growth as well.

Interdependence is the final stage of your education maturity continuum. Mastering this state will allow you to transcend yourself to levels you didn’t think were possible.

Final Thoughts

I have long-past attained my state of educational independence. But I now seek to fully immerse myself in a state of interdependence.

My pursuit for interdependence is one of the core reasons why I started the SkipMBA Blogging Course. Together, we can document our self-educational journey, crystalize our mental models and learn from each other. So please — don’t wait, and join us on this journey toward education interdependence 

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About the author

Shawn Dexter

Shawn Dexter is a Product Manager, Entrepreneur & Software Developer. He is passionate about innovation management & technology.