I may have the chance to keynote a major international conference later this year, and, sitting in my chair at home this morning, my opening to what will be a highly diverse group of attendees began to form itself. I thought I would share:
I’m not a techie, but I am going to talk about the rise of radical new educational technologies. I’m not a classroom teacher but I am going to talk about the pedagogy of deeper learning. I’m not a college president but I am going to talk about the responsibility our colleges have in preparing teachers to teach, and in accepting students for admission based on what we actually value in civil society, which is not how well they do on a bubble test. I’m not a marketing and advertising consultant, but I am going to talk about how every school in the world over the next 20 years will come to know what it means to promote a solid value proposition to consumers in a rapidly expanding marketplace.
I am a student, a learner who passionately understands how great learning transforms the individual. I am a parent who deeply cares about how great education can lift our children, and how misguided education can deeply harm them. I am a “getting older” member of a species that is struggling, and perhaps demonstrably failing, to adapt to the rate of change in the world around us. I am a member of my community, a piece in the puzzle of civil society rooted in a centuries-old tradition of liberal thought, discourse, and reason.
At times, maybe even most of the time, the challenge of changing our system of education seems overly daunting, the urge to walk away or kick the can down the road to someone else the only real option. Changing massive social institutions like education takes a force that is greater than the inertia that has frozen it in place, and that force does not come from one idea, one person, one group, one government. It comes from a shifting set of environmental conditions and responses to those conditions, which is what is happening in education today, whether you, I, or we like it or not.
Human institutions have never withstood the pressure between what we have today and what we need to succeed tomorrow. Change is inevitable, and dramatic change, revolutions like those of agriculture, industry, and information happen despite radical dislocations that leave many by the wayside of history. A similar tsunami is forming in education. The trajectory will be close to vertical, if not beyond vertical, which can only be a quantum step function, something none of us have seen in our professional lifetimes. The great news is that we see it coming and we do, in fact, know what the next genus of “education” will look like. We just have to paddle with the wave.
Not coincidentally, that aligns pretty well with the intro for my new book, which is on target to come out in September!
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