Editor's Note (The View From Here)
- By Deborah P. Moore
- November 1st, 2016
People have said it before…education is a continuous process, a process
that must change as we do. For students to
learn, they need to process information in a way that
relates to them. For us to better understand the present
and forecast the future, it’s helpful to understand
the social factors that shaped the systems of the past.
Agriculture — Prior to the First World War,
farmers composed the largest single group in the country. Education
was informal, taking place anytime, anywhere. Family provided many
of the necessary skills and knowledge. The more advanced skills were
learned through apprenticeships. The facilities where learning took
place included the home, the church and the one-room schoolhouse.
The learning environment was multi-age and multi-disciplinary, with
formal education being reserved for the elite.
Industry — As the population shifted from rural to urban, education
became institutional. As the family dispersed, social institutions grew and
the factory model for schools was born. School buildings mirrored the factory
— central corridors, symmetrical classroom wings, egg-crate design.
Education reflected the values of the time — conformity, compliance,
centralization, standardization. The goal of education was to “finish”.
Knowledge — The “Industrial Age,” born with the steam engine,
died with the silicon chip. Unlike the smooth transition of the farmer
to a factory job, most factory workers did not possess the qualifications
to thrive in this new information-driven age. Education and lifelong
learning are at the core of the “knowledge age.” Rather than to finish
school, the goal of learning became to acquire access to more knowledge
well past the age of formal schooling. In the past, the definition
of an educated person was based on their completion of a prescribed
knowledge base. Now, an educated person will be someone who has
learned how to learn, and continues learning throughout their lifetime.
Technology is an enabler of change for our current generation,
allowing education to become customized, personalized, specialized
and portable. Technology-enhanced classrooms promote interaction
and collaboration. Access to the Internet, distance learning opportunities
and BYOD have allowed learning to happen anytime-anywhere.
Global competition, jobs and the economy have also been drivers for
change, spurring programs in S.T.E.M/S.T.E.A.M., technical/career
and adult education. But the real driver for change is the new generation
of students. They have been comfortable with technology since
an early age, interact on social media, prefer hands-on learning, are
entrepreneurial and are the ones changing how change is made.
This article originally appeared in the November 2016 issue of School Planning & Management.