More School or Less School?
|Venkatesh Rao||Aug 14, 2015|
The 1950s model of scripted industrial schooling producing "Organization Kids" seems obsolete. But the Amy Chua "Tiger Mom" model is the exact same thing with dubious Asian work-ethic justifications attached. In this inaugural issue of the Breaking Smart newsletter, I argue we can do better. Make sure you allow images to be displayed. This newsletter will have visuals.
1950s Organization Kids versus 2015 Tiger Kids. Illustration by Grace Witherell.
1/ Software eating education is often (justifiably) reduced to the litmus-test question of whether or not to drop out of college.
2/ On the one hand, there is more to learn and people live longer, so there is a case for more education.
3/ On the other hand, the world is more uncertain and self-learning has become easier, cheaper and broader in scope.
4/ While there will always be learners who prefer and choose classroom instruction, one size no longer need fit all.
5/ Enforcing it for all turns formal education into a signaling arms race, with learning taking a backseat to credential scarcity.
6/ J. J. Arnett proposed a new lifestage (20s), emerging adulthood, like adolescence ~100 years ago. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/22/magazine/22Adulthood-t.html
7/ With adolescence, high school emerged as an aspirational, universal schooling stage beyond primary and secondary.
8/ But a new life stage need not mean a new educational stage. Arguably high school is needless detention of capable self-learners.
9/ Proposition: the total time-fraction of learning (not "formal education") remains roughly constant at about 30% of lifespan.
10/ But this 30% need not be crammed into the first third of life, or cast in the form of classroom instruction.
11/ The distribution and nature of schooling across a lifespan can change. My preferred model is formal schooling till age 14.
12/ Another 10-20 years of self-directed learning across the next 75 years, in small doses adapted to circumstance, need, age.
13/ The parallel debate between Montessori type learn-by-doing versus classroom instruction is also reductive.
14/ Both modes, plus many more -- such as self-study, online fora, sabbaticals and experimental living -- make sense.
15/ How do we navigate the complexity? "We" don't. Authoritarians love to take control over education with "we" manifestos.
16/ Complexity is best left to the individual learner to navigate. Early formal education has a natural role: teaching steering skills.
17/ Industrial age education was authoritarian ready-aim-fire. Internet self-learning is risky ready-fire-aim. The future: ready-fire-steer.
18/ School <14 can be RERO: release early, release often; keep learners in the highest-autonomy environment they can handle.
19/ Some will be able to handle high autonomy early, others will seek guidance for longer, depending on learning style.
20/ By paving the cowpaths of an increasing variety of self-learners, education can be slowly freed from its Procrustean bed.
_Check out Breaking Smart Season 1 for the deeper context behind this newsletter. If you're interested in bringing the Season 1 workshop to your organization, get in touch. You can follow me on Twitter @vgr
And don't forget to share this newsletter to people who might find it useful._
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