ALVIN TOFFLER'S THIRD WAVE PUBLIC EDUCATIONAlvin Toffler
, the acclaimed futurist and author was interviewed by Edutopia
, the Lucas Foundation's education magazine, where he expounded on the need to radically redesign the public education system, starting with a blank slate. It's an excellent summary article ( full version is on the pdf page) An excerpt:
""We should be thinking from the ground up. That's different from changing everything. However, we first have to understand how we got the education system that we now have. Teachers are wonderful, and there are hundreds of thousands of them who are creative and terrific, but they are operating in a system that is completely out of time. It is a system designed to produce industrial workers.
Let's look back at the history of public education in the United States. You have to go back a little over a century. For many years, there was a debate about whether we should even have public education. Some parents wanted kids to go to school and get an education; others said, "We can't afford that. We need them to work. They have to work in the field, because otherwise we starve." There was a big debate. Late in the 1800s, during the Industrial Revolution, business leaders began complaining about all these rural kids who were pouring into the cities and going to work in our factories. Business leaders said that these kids were no good, and that what they needed was an educational system that would produce "industrial discipline."
....It's open twenty-four hours a day. Different kids arrive at different times. They don't all come at the same time, like an army. They don't just ring the bells at the same time. They're different kids. They have different potentials. Now, in practice, we're not going to be able to get down to the micro level with all of this, I grant you, but in fact, I would be running a twentyfour- hour school, I would have nonteachers working with teachers in that school, I would have the kids coming and going at different times that make sense for them.
The schools of today are essentially custodial: They're taking care of kids in work hours that are essentially nine to five -- when the whole society was assumed to work. Clearly, that's changing in our society. So should the timing. We're individualizing time; we're personalizing time. We're not having everyone arrive at the same time, leave at the same time. Why should kids arrive at the same time and leave at the same time?
I have written posts
along these lines previously
and agree with Toffler that the public school system needs a paradigm shift if it is to be relevant and useful to children who will be working in the last decades of the 21st century. It may be that in shifting to Philip Bobbitt's " market state
", public education authorities will become a dispenser of funds and an accreditor of quality, certifying that children are being well-educated but that the particulars of education decisions will be left to parents, students and a diverse array of providers.
Labels: education, edutopia, futurism, public school, toffler