When I am invited to speak to students, here’s what I say: We adults have perpetrated a cruel hoax.We have convinced you that learning is an intolerably boring process that you must endure, when the reality is that learning is the most fun you can have…period.
Within that time frame, we will face an employment crisis that will shake the foundations of our society, our political system, and our economy. What is the value of memorizing facts if you can command them with a wave of a search engine?
The only answer is education, for adults as well as young people. It is understanding and context that are critically important.
Frankly, I do not see any way that the current education system can compete with the enthralling but shallow offerings of commerce and society.
Nations like China and India, plus fast-gaining countries like Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, and Malaysia, are providing enormous competition for low-level and low-skilled jobs.
But society is transforming at ever accelerating rates and the shiny baubles that novelty and commerce provide are designed to be “sticky” or addictive.
If education wants to capture the attention of children then it must compete with the increasingly effective seductions of commercial offerings.Moreover, commerce and society tends to emphasize novelty and while there is nothing wrong with new things per se, there is much more to life than just the novel.There are few people however, who would delve deeper than today’s satisfactions and that is where education enters the picture.Education needs to emphasize our human talents and abilities.We are headed into a world where creativity and innovative thinking will be more valuable than rote learning of any depth.Skills training in most fields, with a few exceptions, will become obsolete at faster rates.We will, instead, need to fall back on those things that are uniquely human, like art, teamwork, leadership, empathy, understanding, creativity, ingenuity, and all of the deeper aspects of human life and society.It states that computers will double in speed and halve in price every 18 months. We see computers evolving faster than that, and not only is the rate of change accelerating, but the rate of acceleration is increasing.A rough estimate indicates that computers will become about 1000 times faster and more cost-effective over the next ten years.Education provides context to history, art, depth of understanding, and perspective that some people would not otherwise experience.This is part of the traditional role education fulfills in teaching about culture and the transmission of our society’s values.