I’ve discussed before the ideas on the increasing need for instructing our young people in a spirit of increasing creativity and flexibility in their learning. Sir Ken Robinson (@SirKenRobinson) is my favorite speaker on this need. He has some fantastic TED Talks that make the point strikingly clear. His book, Out of Our Minds, is a fantastic manifesto relating to this issue as well.
Until today however, the only people I was hearing making this point were educators. Until today. Today, I heard a podcast from Dan Carlin (@DCCommonSense), who is a political commentator formerly from the radio who has spent the last several years podcasting exclusively. His podcast, Common Sense with Dan Carlin, comes out every other week or so and usually stays to topics like the economy, foreign policy, and governmental corruption. He tweets to nearly 10k followers and his podcast is downloaded by probably five times that many people. I am a regular listener and he normally doesn’t discuss the education system.
Yesterday, he went there. He referenced Sir Ken Robinson and went on to echo much of what I find exactly correct about Robinson’s message. Says Carlin: “[The education system in the United States] was put into place 100 years ago to make good factory workers out of people, basically, to count change back at retail establishments, to be able to read the directions on the machines at the assembly line at auto assembly plant. Whatever is was, we were trying to create a level of middle class job-seekers that had the minimal skills required for their employer.”
He goes on to add, “The economic situation is such now that that is not the right kind of education for our students to have. [Our schools need to create] a different kind of person. You don’t need a person who is trained for a job. You need a person with a firm foundation that will enable them to be flexible and creative.”
And he doesn’t blame the teachers: “It isn’t that anybody in teaching doesn’t see the value in creativity. People who do are as stuck in the machine as any of the rest of us. If you are a teacher who is saying, ‘my goodness, the worst thing that is happening at my school is that the music programs are getting cut,’ what the heck can you do about it? Right? You’re trapped in an inflexible system just like we are when we talk about problems the government has.”
In his latest podcast, he expresses concern over whether or not the needed changes to the education system are going to be realized. Carlin’s skepticism is pointed at the structures that would likely put up roadblocks in the path of true progress in this regard: state and federal governments and the teacher’s unions. Whether or not he is correct in that regard is a matter of debate, but at the very least, innovation in education is lagging the innovation in most other areas of society.
So here we are. The days of industrial education should be coming to end. Many of us in the educational community are becoming aware of it and now those outside of the educational community are echoing the message. People from all over, in different fields, are recognizing the problem and are understanding the solution. At least Sir Ken Robinson and Dan Carlin seem to agree.
Our education system is designed for a world that doesn’t exist anymore.
The quotes are taken from Dan Carlin’s podcast entitled “Pie-in-the-Sky Cynicism” released 30 Jan 2013. It is currently available for free on iTunes.