Tug of War : Teachers, Parents, Students.

“Get over the idea that only children should spend their time in study. Be a student so long as you still have something to learn, and this will mean all your life” (Henry L. Doherty). LBS adds: “Get over the idea that children MUST go to school to learn”.

The Lifelong Learning horizon was spotted decades ago and today we are already on its shores. To simplify things, the 20th Century Education Ship is slitting the throats of our children’s future by rushing  full steam ahead and crashing onto those shores. Anchors ahoy!

When major shifts transition, fallouts are bound to happen. You cannot transplant a complete system unto an old system until more and more people have migrated over to the new wave rendering the old wave obsolete and the New Wave, Complete. To leaders in business and education they have made this loud and clear. To visionary business education and leaders they have always believed that the factory-model of schooling was never a means of education in the first place. To illustrate my point, how many heroes, positive role models and leaders have you read about who have attributed their success to their “sterling” schooling experience? Roald Dahl, Albert Einstein, Marilyn Manson, Jillian Lynne, Paul McCartney, Queen Elizabeth, Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Ken Robinson? How many songs have been written and sung as an extension of their passionate feelings about their schooling? Who in the world has been moved and changed by the Industrial Model of public education?  Nada.

I do not believe that the change in education is going to come from governments or schoolteachers. It will come from society. The reason the government will not and can not say or do anything about this is because it will cause chaos and a complete breakdown in society. The teachers and government officers employed today have loans and bills to pay and know not of any other economic function they are suited for; at least not in today’s 21st Century, counter-intuitive, highly-complexed, layered, economy. If they cannot even fit in to the new economy, how are they going to teach the skills and knowledge needed for our students to have a bright, successful, future?As Alvin Toffler puts it, the battles with education is going to happen one after another, in country after country until this old system is broken down and completely replaced.

There are millions upon millions of people within the Old System who will be displaced by these changes that are happening. What is tragic is that millions of our children could have avoided their fate but millions upon millions of people are choosing to put their children’s futures into the hands of the same millions who are already obsolete outside the systems they are currently benefiting from. What needs to be done is to at least not put our children onto a train heading towards a massive derailing.

I do feel sorry for the millions of schoolteachers, tuition teachers, etc and the micro-economies they support because I was in the Old System, both as a student and as a teacher and I know what level of game is being played inside – a game that has timed out completely. If this system breaks down overnight, it would have diverse consequences on society and the economy. Having said that, if I were a Head of State, I’d break it down anyway. Hesitation is painful. It would take about a decade to unlearn and relearn people. But that’s also how long it is going to take to NOT TAKE ACTION and watch the fallout in education happen later on. This next 10 years is the time to get on the second track for those holding tickets on the first track is bound towards a mother of all train wrecks.

The problem lies not in the fact that parents don’t want to pull their kids out of school but they don’t even realize that technology and population boom has completely altered the face of 21st Century Economy. Let’s face it; we all see education as a means to help us make sense of the world and to adapt to it based on the intelligence, gifts and potential we possess. In other words, for us to be part of the Economy.

The second problem is human nature. We cannot understand anything that is beyond our own experiences to frame. Most parents and teachers out there have no idea about the origins of public education and what the goals of public education are. They naively believe in the benign notion that doing school, getting a certificate, getting a job is what a good citizen ought to do. Benign, but profoundly mistaken.

Third, even if parents are vaguely intuitive about the changes in the 21st Century and the less than noble objectives of schooling, they do not have a solid alternative to turn to. This is where leaders like us need to step up and explain these three things in a way that can help many people understand whether feelings are just hunches or true intuition warning them about what to do to save their children from a catastrophic future. We need to, in a way, unlearn these parents by providing narratives that can help them reframe the experiences that inform their thoughts, judgments and opinions.

Any ruling government will not risk causing an economic domino effect nor risk a premature agitation of the fabric of society by sacking the thousands of teachers belonging to a union who have benefited from this old system. Among these teachers, a small percentage of the most dedicated and talented of them from around the world can be absorbed by courseware publishing companies, the work of a handful of teachers and researches having a platform to collaborate and produce learning that is scalable and available to thousands more around the world. – The Shape of Education to Come –  A review by Sloane Mak.


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