Education

The Future of Education

Via: Brain Pickings

“A prophetic vision for mobile, time-shifted, tele-commuted, on-demand education.

In 1962, Buckminster Fuller delivered a prophetic lecture at Southern Illinois University on the future of education”

Here is what stood out to me:

Though I had entered Harvard with honor grades I obtained only “good” to “passing” marks in my college work, which I adolescently looked upon as a chore done only to earn the right to live in the Harvard community. But above all, I was confronted with social problems of clubs and so forth.

I hadn’t anticipated these social developments. I suddenly saw a class system existing in Harvard of which I had never dreamed. I was not aware up to that moment that there was a social class system and that there were different grades of citizens.

Each time I returned to Harvard I entered a world of gnawing apprehensions, not an educational institution, and that was the problem.

The word poet in this professorship of poetry is a very general term for a person who puts things together in an era of great specialization wherein most people are differentiating or “taking” things apart. Demonstrated capability in the integration of ideas is the general qualification for this professorship.

(60 years later, we live in a time that rewards the Integrators. Someone who connects computers and phones (Apple), or the internet and social interaction (Facebook) reaps billions of dollars.)

There is nothing even mildly extraordinary about me except that I think I am durable and inquisitive in a comprehensive pattern. I have learned much; but I don’t know very much; but what I have learned, I have learned by trial and error. And I have great confidence in the meager store of wisdom that I have secured.

I am convinced that humanity is characterized by extraordinary love for its [children] and yet has been misinforming its [children] to such an extent that the [children are] continually at a greater disadvantage than [they] would be if abandoned in the wilderness by the parents.

The frontiers of science are such that almost every morning many of our hypotheses of yesterday are found inadequate or in error. So great is the frontier acceleration that now in a year of such events much of yesterday’s conceptioning becomes obsolete.

I am quite confident that humanity is born with its total intellectual capability already on inventory and that human beings do not add anything to any other human being in the way of faculties and capacities. What usually happens in the educational process is that the faculties are dulled, overloaded, stuffed and paralyzed, so that by the time that most people are mature they have lost use of many of their innate capabilities. My long-time hope is that we may soon begin to realize what we are doing and may alter the “education” process in such a way as only to help the new life to demonstrate some of its very powerful innate capabilities.

Nothing is going to be quite so surprising or abrupt in the forward history of man as the forward evolution in the educational processes.

 Today we are extraordinarily mobile… Comprehensively, the world is going from a Newtonian static norm to an Einsteinian all-motion norm. That is the biggest thing that is happening at this moment in history. [Educational planners] will have to be serving the children of the mobile people who really, in a sense, don’t have a base…

The new life [new generations] needs to be inspired with the realization that it has all kinds of new advantages that have been gained through great dedications of unknown, unsung heroes of intellectual exploration and great intuitively faithful integrities of men groping in the dark. Unless the new life is highly appreciative of those who have gone before, it won’t be able to take effective advantage of its heritage. It will not be as regenerated and inspired as it might be if it appreciated the comprehensive love invested in that heritage.

I have taken photographs of my grandchildren looking at television. Without consideration of the “value,” the actual concentration of a child on the message which is coming to him is fabulous. They really “latch on.” Given the chance to get accurate, logical, and lucid information at the time when they want and need to get it, they will go after it and inhibit it in a most effective manner.

I am quite certain that some day… What is net [boiled down] will become communicated so well that any child can turn on a documentary device, a TV, and get the Einstein lucidity of thinking and get it quickly and firmly. I am quite sure that we are going to get research and development laboratories of education where the faculty will become producers of extraordinary moving-picture documentaries. That is going to be the big, new educational trend.

Einstein, when he wanted to study, didn’t sit in the middle of a school room. That is probably the poorest place he could have gone to study. When an individual is really thinking, he is tremendously isolated.

Education will then be concerned primarily with exploring to discover not only more about the universe and its history but about what the universe is trying to do, about why man is part of it, and about how can, and may man best function in universal evolution.

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Your Education Initiatives Will Fail

Do the recent education initiatives in America…

  • Race to the Top
  • CCSS
  • NCLB
  • and perhaps all of the many initiatives of the past decade

…have it wrong? Do they miss (entirely) how important play and unstructured time areto learning development and living?

Here is what I found:

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“Creative work requires large blocks of unstructured, uninterrupted time.”
– Charles Eames, legendary American designer.

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Great things come from real relaxation.
– Stefan Sagmeister. The Power of Time Off 

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“I do my best work when I have long chunks of uninterrupted time. A lot of that time is spent staring at the blackboard or the piece of paper where I scribbled something. But this “staring into space” time is still extremely important! Hilariously represented in this clip from the Big Bang Theory.
– Adriana Salerno. “Learning to Say No”

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“What do you do at work?”

“Well, I do a lot of this [leans back in chair with hands interlocked behind head and stares at ceiling].”
– Engineer at Raytheon, working on the Patriot Missile among other projects.

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Time is the raw material of creation.
– Kevin Ashton. “Creative People Say No”. Referencing Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the world’s leading researcher on positive psychology.

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“Doing nothing may be going too far. Managers play an important role in coordinating complicated activities and disciplining slackers. And some creative people would never finish anything if they were left to their own devices. But there is certainly a case for doing a lot less—for rationing e-mail, cutting back on meetings and getting rid of a few overzealous bosses. Leaning in has been producing negative returns for some time now. It is time to try the far more radical strategy of leaning back.”
– The Economist. “In Praise of Laziness”

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“I block out at 2-3 hours to focus on ONE [important, uncomfortable task] for today.

TO BE CLEAR: Block out at 2-3 HOURS to focus on ONE of them for today. This is ONE BLOCK OF TIME. Cobbling together 10 minutes here and there to add up to 120 minutes does not work.”
– Tim Ferriss. “Productivity Tricks for the Neurotic, Manic-Depressive, and Crazy (Like Me)”

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“When creativity is under the gun, it usually ends up getting killed.”
– Harvard Business Review. “Creativity Under the Gun”

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Forty years of research has shown positive correlation between play and children’s learning.
– Learning through Play

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There’s only one rule that I know of, babies—”God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”
– Kurt Vonnegut. God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

Article XXVIII: Every newborn shall be sincerely welcomed and cared for until maturity.
– Kurt Vonnegut. Timequake

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“Big ideas take time.”

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“Being able to play is one of the key developmental tasks of early childhood.6 Play is “the leading source of development in the early years”:7 it is essential to children’s optimal development.8”

“Many of these [modern, social] settings focus on structured educational and recreational activities, leaving little time for participation in open-ended, self-initiated free play.11”
– LET THE CHILDREN PLAY: Nature’s Answer to Early Learning

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“There is nothing the busy man is less busied with than living; there is nothing harder to learn.”
– Seneca

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“Let go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth.”

“We are the most in-debt, obese, addicted and medicated adult cohort in U.S. history.”

Parents who work too much tell their children, “I just want you to have what I never did.” The problem with this is that it is just what their parents said. And their parents before them. Which generation gets to just live?
– Brene Brown

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Seek to provide social spaces and unstructured time for staff interaction.
– University of Surry. “Legitimizing Creativity”

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“Unsolicited Evaluation Is the Enemy of Creativity.”
– Psychology Today. “Freedom to Learn”

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“The charette-driven, when’s-the-deadline mindset might be a good way to force yourself through the resistance, but it has a huge cost–you will be judged. The market will not judge you by how much work you did, we will judge you by how it works and looks and feels. And that comes from polish, and polish cannot be rushed.”
– Seth Godin. “The three toxic stooges of the project apocalypse”
[charette (n): an intense period of design or planning activity]

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“What really makes us intelligent isn’t our ability to find lots of information quickly. It’s our ability to think deeply about that information. And deep thinking, brain scientists have discovered, happens only when our minds are calm and attentive. The greater our concentration, the richer our thoughts.”
– Nicholas Carr. “The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains”

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“We prepare children to learn how to learn, not how to take a test,”

“Play is important at this age,” Rintola would later say. “We value play.”
– Smithsonian. “Why Are Finland’s Schools Successful?”

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“The U.S. has an industrial model where teachers are the means for conveying a prefabricated product. In Finland, the teachers are the standard.”

“Their teachers are much better prepared to teach physics than we are, and then the Finns get out of the way. You don’t buy a dog and bark for it,” says Dan MacIsaac, a specialist in physics-teacher education at Buffalo State College who visited Finland for two months. “In the U.S., they treat teachers like pizza delivery boys and then do efficiency studies on how well they deliver the pizza.”
– Time. “Finnishing School”

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My conclusion: When you make kids performers, rather than creators, you destroy their future. This cannot be overstated. Performers will dread learning, hate their job, struggle in relationships, avoid taking action.

There is no way around it: teachers and students must be given time.

For everyone not in school: You have to, individually, make time for yourself or earn time through intentional effort. No one else is going to make time for you, just as no one is going to get you in shape. You earn time by busting your butt and by disciplining your time. You earn time by completing tasks early and saying “No”, to yourself and to other people.

Work. A conversation.

Wasting time in every class makes no sense.

No one goes out for football, but doesn’t like football, and therefore goofs off in every practice and game.

But that’s different, Mr. Huhn. No one is required to go out for football. I am required to go to class. Even if I don’t like it.

Fine. Let’s use another example. You probably do not like going to the dentist, yet you must. And when you go to the dentist, you do not waste time and goof off and make everything take longer for everyone else.

But that’s different, too, Mr. Huhn. I only go to the dentist twice a year, but I have to come to school every weekday. And this is the 13th year of it!

First, I hear ya. Thirteen years of sitting is a tough sell.

Second, aha. Now we have arrived at the heart of the matter. You have a decision to make: either don’t come to class, and instead follow your bliss. Or be positive and productive during class. Any other decision is as absurd as the two scenarios I mentioned above.

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