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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Education is Individualistic

The goal of education is fairly straightforward.

For everyone, it is to discover, line up, and enrich:
  • their individual skills (what they do well compared to others) with
  • their individual opportunities (such as projects, activities, internships, and increasingly sustaining jobs) with
  • their individual sustaining strategies and relationships (notably career and family) with
  • their individual beliefs and passions (including how to best improve the human condition).

For a good life: align what you are doing with what you do well with what you want to do with what you think is important to do (in a growing and sustainable way).

There are some common skills such as reading, writing, and arithmetic (but not many). Each area must be discovered, expanded, tested, and rigorously honed. (As they say in the marketing world, most people have never tasted their favorite breakfast cereal.) And someone who loves cooking may have to fill in the non-intuitive and uncomfortable skill of reading a balance sheet if they want to open a restaurant. But educational activities that involve large passive groups are delaying tactics in meeting these goals, not solutions.
Can centralized schools play a role? Absolutely. But the role for traditional classes is smaller than we dared imagine. Currently, the DNA of schools with 'universal' approaches is to teach material that may line up with some students and not others. Which means education is a lottery - if your skills and aptitude happen to line up with one of the school paths, you win! But if not, you loose. 

New educational approaches are needed, for each of the rings, around exposure, play, and rigor. We have to resist the urge to put moral value on alignment of natural aptitudes with specific, predefined paths. Because adults are different, education is necessarily individualistic. Educational models for all ages will have to be as well.

My Original Notes (from my Moleskine)

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