Monday, May 29, 2006

Needed: Future Ready Thinkers - are the schools ready?

Image: Elisha Otis's Elevator Patent Drawing, 01/15/1861.

From my personal notebook

There are two persistent problems with education anywhere today:
  1. What they teach at any school is backward-looking. The textbooks are old, based on even older material, based on even older events and analysis.

  2. Most institutes do not teach a human child or adult to use their own mind. In fact, thinking with one’s own mind is believed to be a dangerous and reckless tendency viewed suspiciously. It is “liable to punishment.”

This is my dream for the overhaul of education: To rally schools (anywhere, all age groups, all social groups) around two things they must have in order to be compatible with the needs of life and the modern man:

All schools must have a dedicated “future studies” course. This course must cover the study of, at least, changes in the STEEPLE factors in the next 5-10 years. STEEPLE is an amazing model for analysis of environment of life. It is simply an acronym for Society + Technology + Economy + Environment + Politics + Law + Ethics. It is a framework to study the environment in which we exist.

Ecology as a Basis to Understand the System of Life
A note: I’d rather replace the word “environment” in the framework with the more apt “ecology.” In any institute of future studies… ecological studies, to me, is a must. I imagine that each school gives compulsory education to students of all levels about ecology and the dynamics of life. So that we may finally develop human children into sensitive beings with a personal responsibility for the biosphere. I also imagine that a school’s negligence in teaching ecological studies is “liable to punishment” by law…. Hmmm. I can sense the theme of my next campaign…

STEEPLE-S, with Spirituality
Another idea is to add spirituality as a separate factor in the analysis model. It’s a possibility I want to dedicate more thought to.

Own Vision, Own Future
In the future studies course, students will not only learn from futurists, but mostly form their own extrapolative pictures of the future. After all those who imagine the future shape it. There will be no forced conclusion – it’s not history but future so all cannot agree – instead broad areas of future concerns will give the universal framework within which to excite imagination and generate solutions.

All schools must have a course dedicated to thinking. World’s leading thinker Edward de Bono is the main champion of that cause, and not without reason. If people are not taught how to think, we are being taught how not to think. If we are not thinking ourselves, who is thinking for us? And how, pray, are they superior in some way so as to take upon their shoulder a head that can think for others?

Why Won't Schools Let Us Think?
The educational practice of not letting people is rooted deep in the bias that some people are genetically or socially superior. These are the ones with the "right" to teach the rst what to think and what to do.

To bypass this utterly stupid bias, humans of all classes and races have tried to devise theories that would fit their own race and social system. So sometimes it’s the rich and the white that rule supreme. For a while then, being socially equal was in fashion – and now we are feeling that the racial favorability in tilting on the Asian side.

Whoever is the leading force locally or globally at any given time, it does not mean they are divinely superior in any way. This is proven by the history of humankind where one group of people has displaced another. There is no universal superiority except the superiority of Man over all kinds of life – and all humans can think for themselves.

It’s time that the education system of humanity aligns itself with this reality – so poignantly clear in the age of the Internet where all people are like all other people.

Think to Change
Thinking will help the children learn how to deal with change and devise new strategies for ever new situations. It is the tool one needs to be equipped with to deal with the chaos of life.



Zakintosh said...
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Zakintosh said...

fabulous post. discussing this via blogs is not enough! many likeminded people exist in this city/country who feel this way. the recent bss 3-day event that looked at the future of schools (even whether they should exist at all) had several of them (and many international speakers on the subject). the first event i organized for them, 5 years ago, was called 'rethinking educaton.'

glitch: it was mainly attended by the people who grew up in a "don't think!" environment, so nothing much came of it. but it wasn't entirely wasted. it did bring about this 3-day follow-up 5 years later.

how about a small group-meeting of such people to set up a forum? i am working with the 'teachers resource centre' on starting regular debates on education. but their focus is limited to k-12. we need one for beyond that, too. any ideas?

Ramla A. said...

Zak: a wiki workgroup! What do you say? (If I am being an excessive techie buff, please rebuff me!) Let's set an agenda, form a workgroup, and sell our ideas/ solutions to edu institutes. I think we can only make a difference when we present workable solutions.

The first thing is to have a group of like-minded persons together who champion a certain cause. To engage the unwilling would lead to all conflict, no resolution. The best thing is to come up with commercially viable solutions and implement them, ideally by the group members. Just an idea.