Myopic future of education
Posted September 9, 2015on:
Like the majority of Singaporeans, I am physically myopic (short-sighted). I cannot see clearly beyond my arm without the help of corrective lenses.
Some people can barely predict what they will do next week, so how are they going to see the future of education? I ask this in all seriousness because the future of education is no trifle matter.
The big question is: What is the future of education?
The people who seem the most worried about the future of education are politicians, policy makers, and administrators (strangely enough, teachers do not seem to be that concerned). The people most interested in answering this question tend to be vendors and self-proclaimed prophets.
On one hand, you can understand the importance of such a question. Any country’s ministry or department of education can correlate its core work with well-being (economic or otherwise).
On the other hand, you have to ask yourself if anyone can predict an uncertain future. Some thought leaders have started using VUCA to describe the world now: Volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous. All four conspire to make prediction of the future of education next to impossible.
So should we just throw our collective hands in the air and give up? No, that would be just as foolish. I offer three perspectives.
- Here is a quote attributed to William Gibson: The future is already here — it is just not very evenly distributed. That is one way of saying that we can learn from others around and slightly ahead of us.
- Joi Ito recommends that we be “now-ists”. What we do now with verve and passion has a peculiar habit of becoming the future.
- We need to recognize another aspect of being short-sighted and that is not learning from the past and the mistakes others make. For example, we might think that the problems we have today like neophobia are new. An examination of the past will reveal otherwise.
All that said, education can change quickly. However, schooling is unlikely to evolve or transform.
People are already educating themselves independently of school via Youtube and MOOCs. For as long as schools still cling on to pencils, think inside the paper-only box, operate by standardization over personalization, and create artificial bubbles, we are not likely to see much change. And as long as people confuse education with schooling, we will not see much change in education either.