Saturday, June 23, 2007

Content vs. creativity as the goal of education...

In my mind, there is little doubt that we are at the initial stages of tremendous change to our educational structures. The way in which we interact with knowledge - co-creation, commenting, amateur peer-evaluation, openness, etc. - is strongly at odds with traditional education. Classrooms have been conceived as comprising a single prominent node (the teacher). Yet, our daily interactions are multi-nodal. Our experience with information is multi-perspective.

Forecasting the world in which our children will be working and living long after we are gone is an impossible task. We can not, with certainty and absolute confidence, even forecast what the world will look like in the next 10 years.

School systems all over the world, literally everywhere - in so-called developed and undeveloped places - are set up to make academic professors of us all. Middle and secondary schools are set up to physically and academically resemble colleges -- curriculum is built around fifty minute chunks; academic seat-time is measured in quarters or semesters; grades are used to mark mastery, content is delivered only to be absorbed and repeated, etc.

The trouble is, no matter how revolutionary secondary curriculum and participation is, if one stays on track a student will run smack into the walls of the ivory tower and will be transported back to a medieval system where the ultimate goal is to fill our brains -- slightly on one side, of course -- with content. How many of us were told as children not to dance because we won't grow up to be dancers; not to paint because we won't grow up to be painters; and so forth and so on. Sir Kenneth Robinson explains how schools kill creativity far more eloquently than I can.

The question that remains for me is whether education can evolve on it's own...or whether it will be transformed and revolutionized by outside forces.

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