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Where should education be located?

Integrate education into the places people already go daily

Photo of James McBennett
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My favorite youtube channel is School of Life who also have a bookshop in London not too far from where I used to live. What if we went to a coffeeshop called Thoreau where we sat on the grass and paid less for coffee embracing Thoreau's call for being comfortable with less. Or maybe the coffee shop was based on the Stoics that presented us with the most uncomfortable seating to prepare us to realize that the chair we sat in a meeting later on that day wasn't the worst it could be. How can lessons we need to know interrupt our daily lives to help us live better. Below are two more examples from a previous OpenIdeo challenge post by Robert Kordenbrock that integrate financial wisdom and how to be an adult with coffeshops.


Society of Grownups (an IDEO project)

"The Society of Grownups and Capital One 360 Cafes (both in Boston) are great examples of efforts to educate adults about literacy and/or provide opportunities to invest, etc in social settings.  The Society of Grownups offers various classes while also providing financial advisers to clientele.  The Capital One 360 Cafes are in partnership with Peet's Coffee shops to offer access to banking and coffee, tea, etc in one location!  Although different approaches, these are two examples of opportunities for financial education for adults in social settings.  The "About" pages for each:

Every generation has its own dreams. And its own ideas about success. But the only path to happiness is the one built on your individual goals and values.

The first step toward achieving your dreams? Giving them a name. That’s why everything we do at Society of Grownups is designed to discover what you really want.

Our curriculum includes classes, chats, supper clubs, guest speakers, special events, and presentations—all arranged around the things that matter to you. From good food and fine wine to advancing your career, building a home, being a good parent, or simply finding balance.

We believe a solid financial footing makes your personal goals, whatever they may be, a lot more attainable. So we host Core Financial Classes on critical subjects like investments, debt, and inheritance. We also provide balanced, one-on-one financial counseling via 20-minute checkups and 90-minute deep dives with financial planners.

Our hand-picked financial planners are experienced at translating your goals into easy-to-understand action plans. Their goal is to help you use your finances to become the kind of grownup that you want to be. And to help you enjoy the journey along the way.


Capital One 360 Cafe

At Capital One 360®, we believe banking should fit comfortably into everyday life. That's why we're not just online and mobile; we can now be found in Cafés opening across Boston. A place where you can get your banking questions answered or simply recharge your lives with free WiFi, tips on saving time & money, and freshly-brewed Peet’s Coffee®. See for yourself how together we can challenge every preconception of what a bank can be."

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Photo of Chris Eberhardt

Thanks for the contribution. For a couple years now I've hoped to start a restaurant that follows your examples; thanks for the suggestions. But do customers learn? Recent work such as Academically Adrift has questioned our assumptions, but in general higher education is about some serious mental gymnastics. Do you think that customers are challenged enough in your model? 

Photo of James McBennett

I think it depends who your customer is? Let's imagine you did actually set up a restaurant of philosophy where the location was ever-changing in suitable pop-up locations to reflect a new name and menu each quarter based on the ideas of a single philosopher. Are you appealing to foodies who love great food or the curious who love to be entertained with ideas? If your perfect customer is someone who is a ratio of 50/50 of the two and you ignore everyone else, that is your core audience. If it's big enough of an audience, you have a start with low-cost pop-up prototypes that appeal to this highly focused segment. People who attend TEDx events, OpenIDEO or Creative Mornings might overlap with segment and help find the group.

With restaurants like the Fat Duck in London or WD-50 in NYC (, who is their audience? Eventually any restaurant that grows to become popular receives a new audience that goes neither for great food or entertaining philosophy as their priorities, but simply to go where is popular. I would love to go to WD-50 (if I had enough money and it was still there) to see the experimental food, although many simply go because its popular.

Photo of Chris Eberhardt

I think my main concern is along the lines of recent research that shows open workspaces don't work and lose companies money, because staff cannot concentrate. I think it is one thing to go into a cafe for a checklist of financial planning tips, ie. pay off debt, put aside something in savings, etc. It is another thing for people to work through serious theory, and to really stretch the brain in a way you would hope to in some semblance of higher education.

Photo of James McBennett

A very quantitative / analytical way of looking at it. Open spaces are great for certain people and terrible for others. Cubicles are great for some and terrible for others. Recent research shows open spaces are terrible and other research shows they are great. I believe it depends on who the space is for and what they are using it for. Don't fall into the trap of reading a few reports from a one viewpoint and thinking they are infallible.

Photo of Chris Eberhardt

Touché. Thanks for the reminder to not be lazy and just pick and choose the reports that support one's opinion and exclude others.