Today, while explaining a list of verbs that go together, we came across the pair “Buy & Sell”. I asked my adult students for examples of a place we can go to “Buy & Sell” and we came up with only one, “the sharemarket”. That was until I evolved the discussion in talking about the online phenomenon of buying and selling, i.e. ebay and amazon.
The conversation evolved into what things like Google, Facebook and Youtube are about and how they make money doing things for ‘free’. It opened an opportuniy to let me ask, “If the Prussian education system helped prepare farm children to be workers for the Industrial Revolution, who is going to help prepare our children for the 21st century economy?”
I wished of course, that I have the opportunity to talk to more parents and help them be aware about these things which they cannot understand – that the Second Wave is over and we have entered the Third Wave. These things are not just “fads” that are going to go away. Not only will they not go away, these things parents cannot understand WILL define the way wealth is created, defining the futures of their children.
The 20th century was about mass production of tangible things, where play and creativity has to be sacrificed for ‘work and efficiency’. What happens when we’ve already mastered the knowledge to produce all the things we need and even experiencing overcapacity? What happens when the Industrial Revolution with its concept of mass production has permanently solved the problem of scarcity?
Many of us fail to notice that “invention is the mother of necessity”. Each time humans experience a problem, our imagination goes to work. Alongside creativity, those individuals standing on the Leading Edge of Thought discovered and finetuned the solutions to our problems. For a long time, scarcity was a problem. For a long time, the quest for a Purpose to our life and the question of Divinity was there inside us. And it took a long time coming, but it surely came.
We are now living the reality of the solutions thought up by the many individuals who have passed our world. We’ve solved the problem of land and production scarcity which has previously caused tragic wars, slavery and oppression. We have solved the problem of why we have to grow up and work instead of play? We have the answers about whether we were born with a purpose, with a talent and a gift we can contribute to the world.
We’ve entered the Third Wave within one generation. For many of the young people today, their parents lived through the last wave where scarcity was still a problem. Change accelerated so quickly within the last 50 years that it was predicted that these Baby Boomers would suffer from Future Shock – a condition where change happened so quickly that they are unable to make sense of it. ‘
One reason why those in their late 30s to 50s cannot empathise with the educational and learning development needs of their children is because they assumed life for their children will run on the same rules they had run their own lives i.e. they cannot make sense of the world their children are born into. Many adults were led to believe that the sacrifices they had made for their schooling and career would earn them the right to be complacent or to rest on their laurels. That may be true for those born before the turn of the 20th century. Unfortunately, Change accelerated at a higher degree than expected. I believe the crescendo began around1950.
While some parents are willing to reconsider that their own perception of reality is being defeated by this Wave of Change, many still need to be persuaded that these changes are happening and that they are permanent. In a way, it may seem “unfortunate” that as adults, we worked so hard to guarantee stability for our children yet not being able to say “I was right”. However, I think we also failed to realize that had it not been for the crescendo, many of us would still remain poor instead of being working/middle-class today. We would like to believe that our professional/ white-collar jobs, homes and cars and college education was a direct result of our own merit but I believe it was enabled by the accelerated Change that was sweeping across the world at the time of the Baby Boomers generation.
I know young people understand all this and I know they’re feeling angry that their teachers and their parents don’t. I can only hope that parents love their children enough to be willing to keep an open mind and listen to the rumbling of the waves of Change. I can only hope that more parents would be willing to pay for their own re-education than to force their children to attend more and more obsolete ‘tuition classes’. I hope the same for teachers.