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Friday, June 3, 2011

What has Changed 04 - The Rate of Change in the World is Much Greater than School's Ability to Adapt

For education to be relevant, it has to be somewhat connected to the productive world.
  1. Education has to prepare students for the current and future productive world.
  2. Education has to speak the language of current students (one has to pace before leading).
  3. Education has to use the tools currently available in the productive and recreational world.
  4. From both a cost and benefit perspective, Education has to be "worth it" to be sponsored by taxing the productive world.
We may have passed the point, however, where the rate of change in the marketplace, in children and other students, in the tools available, and even in the funding model from the productive world has passed the ability to schools to keep up.

The U.S. Military has a stark critique of themselves: "we train our soldiers for the last war, not the next." National education is worse, effectively preparing the children for jobs from the 1950's, maybe the 1940's.

If you believe that changes in the external world require changes in the educational system (and many do not), then the examination of schools ability to adapt can be done at an almost biological level. What are the sensors that detect change? What are the mechanisms that enact change?

Into this system, put:
  • Textbook publishing.
  • Government policies.
  • School boards and committees.
  • Funding mechanisms, including property taxes but also grants (such as the National Science Foundation).
  • Academic research processes.
  • Rate of hiring and firing of teachers.
  • Visions of how the world will be when the students graduate.
At best, the metronome of school change beats once a year. At worse, it takes a decade or even a generation to detect change and then to enact a proposed adaptation. As the rate of change increases faster than the rate of adaption, the relevancy gap increases. Which means we are already at a point where schools are archaic, or necessarily soon will be.

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