I’m pretty good at distilling, summarizing, synthesizing, and then sharing; it is what I do best for my fellow educators. I certainly don’t arrive at big ideas by myself. Most are the products of interactions with “others”, which stew for some time in my mental crock pot before they are ready for consumption.
I am stumped in how to best share The Inevitable, an educators’ must read by Kevin Kelley. It is just too rich, too full of what we need to know and imagine, that it almost defies summary. An adequate book report would be many pages long. Just read it.
Kelley co-founded Wired magazine in 1993, and has had a front row seat to the birth and explosion of the Information Age. In The Inevitable, he focuses on the forces of change, not the products and services that continue to flow into our lives. These forces, all empowered as verbs, include becoming, cognifying, flowing, accessing, sharing, filtering, and more. They are the evolutionary factors which will increasingly determine outcomes of many of our most human goals and ambitions: success, happiness, fulfillment, satisfaction. If this sounds like a frightening vision, it is a bit…but it is also inevitable. The future does not have to be scary, but it can be, particularly when we face it with our eyes squinting or closed.
I can’t begin to re-tell the number of points of cross-over between the vision of our future that Kelley shares with my own sense of the needs for educators to push their horizons of thinking. Like so many others with greatly more perspective than I, he sees the rapid evolution of a global social neural network, my “cognitosphere”, that empowers and rewards the creation and free flow of knowledge vastly more than the transaction of knowledge as a commodity. It is just not possible, given any degree of accuracy in the predictions of Kelley and so many others, that the dominant mode of education even a decade from now will be isolated school campuses where students learn one subject, one classroom, one period, one teacher at a time.
Much of what Kelley foresees is related to the development of technologies: screens, networks, filters, artificial intelligence, storage, and more. But he shows us how these ever-more-rapid iterations are now a given, and puts the inevitable development of hardware and software into the back seat. The front seat belongs to how our lives change as technologies increasingly become just another part of the ecosystem.
What is critical for educators is this: much of what sounds like science fiction in the book is not; it is already here, or at least on the immediate horizon. The vast majority of school community stakeholders are struggling to change for a “future” that is already in the past. That is a recipe for irrelevancy, as if we all worked for buggy manufacturers who were scrambling to improve horse-drawn carriages well after the first Model A’s were rolling off of Ford’s assembly lines.