Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Education's Future: "Go Do Something Interesting".

Another interesting TED talk on the future of education. The speaker is Seth Godin. The question is "What is school for?".

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXpbONjV1Jc (17 minutes)

As usual, it is easy to see how that could work out for a self-motivated student, but what about the unmotivated students? Will they just waste time until school is over? Spending hour after hour playing World of Warcraft doesn't sound like a well rounded education to me.

Life could be awfully complex for a teacher in the future if all the students are going off in their own directions and each student is looking to the teacher during the day to answer questions they have from the diverse lectures they listened to last night. I suppose there can be various specialists on staff, and depending on the questions, the teacher could redirect the student to the appropriate specialist. Except for the lower grade levels, that isn't all that much different from the staff of schools today, except for the change from having assigned time slots to sit with each specialist on your schedule.

Unclear to me is how the school will insist on a "well rounded" education. I suppose this comes down to some assumptions on what school is for. I believe that one of the things school is for is to educate the students to the point where they are prepared to learn new things in the future. That calls for some fundamental reading and writing skills, some basic math skills and some elementary knowledge of history and literature. This may not fit the student's opinion of what is "something interesting", but if the school hands out diplomas to students who aren't prepared even to be knowledgeable voters, then the diploma doesn't mean much. This is where the cynic would point out how little a high school diploma means today.

On the one hand, I can see a case for loosening up a school's schedule, spending less time in required classes, but on the other hand, I can see an awful lot of students frittering away the time released for them to go do something interesting. Do you see a way to structure things such that no one gets left behind and folks who are motivated can go as far as they want to go?