Earlier this month, I wrote an entry, trying to identify some of the characteristics of our social, economic, technological, cultural, blah blah conditions that have changed in the past decade or two, that I believe should be addressed as we attempt to adapt education to a new set of challenges.
Yesterday, Marco Polo posted a comment that I think is entirely appropriate at this time, the last week of 2005. It’s a time of reflection and anticipation, as a new year unfolds with opportunities and challenges. Polo says,
DavidÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s questions suggest that the primary purpose of education (or school) is to prepare children for the future. When has mankind ever been ready for the future? The intriguing scenarios he poses (posed by science fiction writers for decades now) raise the question of what is the purpose of human life? Merely to chase after the future? Like Frankenstein trying catch his creation before it causes irreperable damage (to itself or others)? Or is there some other purpose there too, something that has remained the same regardless of the age or circumstances we live in? I made a similar comment on Miguel GuhlinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s blog a while back: in this brave new world, where is the place for the those like my Downs syndrome daughter? The presence of such people is a healthy reminder that man is not primarily made to chase after his own creations. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not all about getting ahead, staying competitive, etc., etc. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not saying those are not worthwhile goals; just that theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not the only ones, and perhaps not even the most important. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s easy to get carried away by the exciting possibilities: Ã¢â‚¬Å“people talking!Ã¢â‚¬Â Yes, but how come that has become such a premium? How come we have allowed ourselves to create rootless gatherings of people, to dilute the power of community and family? Would the idea of people communicating and creating communities spanning the whole globe be so exciting if we were not living such isolated lives? And how did THAT come about?
I have little to say in response, except simply to elevate Marco’s observations to the front of my blog. I believe that he is absolutely right, that a race to the future defeats what is precious, the present, and that we may be robbing our children of their precious present for the sake of the future, and perhaps for the sake of political satisfactions much more selfish and insidious.
The future can’t be denied, and to improve the likelihood that all of our children’s presents will be happy and fruitful, we must do what we can to prepare them. However, I continue to maintain, that the classrooms that prepared me in the ’50s and ’60s are not appropriate for today’s children. It takes something much different to prepare children to not so much compete, but to be of enough value to cooperate, and to seek and attain what makes them happy and self-fulfilled in a time of rapid change.
Many thanks Marco, and happy new year.