Humans have a desire to find meaning and order in their lives. The quest to “know” has motivated individuals to search and explore. For some this has meant to risk and stretch, both physically and mentally, beyond their current condition and understanding. In some cases, when the “answer” was beyond that times current capacity of understanding, answers were “made up” producing “folk lore” and “wives’ tales”. The phenomena emerged that “in the absence of knowledge, we make up knowledge”.
Humans desire order and understanding in their lives. Systems, protocols and practices are created based on what we know to be “true” at the time. The discovery of new knowledge that conflicts with long held beliefs and practices, many times causes discourse and friction. The discount or disbelief “pushback” is a result of individuals having to grow away from their common understand and embracing the new. The degree of commitment an individual has to their beliefs connects directly to the ability to move to new knowledge and thinking.
In order to change and embrace new thinking, a significant emotional experience is needed. This significant experience could be either a positive or negative. It needs to be emotional so as to generate enough energy within the individual to think differently. The emotional experience can generate change that occurs quickly (as in a lightning bolt) or slowly over time (as in a crock pot). The critical concept is that one must grow (change) or die.
In our quest for knowledge and order we have created systems to get us there. System designs have not been fluid or had the design feature to have the ability to adapt and change. Systems we have created are based on what we know at the time. They are built with the best intention and do serve for the moment. However as our understanding of the world moves forward, our systems many times do not. Once a system is in place, it takes on a life of its own. It then takes significant energies and effort to move away and or dismantle it.
With education, we have a system in place that is based on what we knew to be true at the turn of the last century. The concept of time on task, division of work, and the factory model for the delivery of curriculum were design components. 110 years later the world has change, but education systems have not. It is past time to change.
Rail Transportation in the United States
Rail transportation has been a big part of the evolution and growth on the United States. As we began the 20th century, transportation was centered on the railroad system. Elaborate practices and protocols were developed as well as the allocation of resources. Technology focused on making trains faster and better, moving from steam to diesel. Engineers, conductors and those who worked for the railroad were respected and honored. Trains and the impact of rapid transportation resulted in reshaping our concept of time. Regional “time zones” were created and the use of the telegraph became crucial so as to track and scheduled trains. To receive a telegram from Western Union was a big deal.
Cities and towns sprung up along the tracks boasting of train stations and physical plants to support train transportation. Railroads became so ingrain into the thinking and reality of the time that movies and songs constantly include rail transportation references. As big and important as rail transportation was through the 1950’s how important is it today?
The assemble line model of teaching and learning is going the same way as the railroad systems.
Automobiles individualize ground transportation and airplanes connected use globally. These mobility inventions revolutionized transportation, causing new thinking and new systems to be created and built.
Laptop computers in the hands of students, connect to the internet, is causing the same deep systemic change. Educators need to acknowledge and embrace this reality. Energies need be focused on creating educational systems/experiences that discovery student’s passions and strengths. These new emerging teaching/education systems need to be fluid, adapting to the student.
The first step is to think differently.