“I said schools as we know them now, they’re obsolete. I’m not saying they’re broken. It’s quite fashionable to say that the education system’s broken. It’s not broken. It’s wonderfully constructed. It’s just that we don’t need it anymore. It’s outdated.”
-Sugata Mitra- TED talk 2013
I truly didn’t think I would be inspired to write much today, but then I heard an interview with Sugate Mitra on NPR. I was then drawn to listening to his TED talk, “Build a School in the Cloud“. His look at the past and current status of our education system is worth pondering. Of course the consequences of his quote above being correct and our educational system being outdated are difficult to fathom. Our society is very dependent on our educational system for many things beyond reading and writing. One of the biggest disruptions would likely come from the loss of a universal childcare system for children ages 5-18. What would families do with their not yet independent children if a supervised and structured environment with well-trained professionals were to suddenly not be available? We might also see the loss of common social experiences which lead to a common understandings about how we function in our society. Even bigger, and possibly more exciting, would be the loss of our current social construct of intelligence. However, I am not sure focusing on what would be lost is the right approach to this conversation. If we want to examine the idea of our educational system is outdated, we should look at what could be if we allow drastic change to occur. What would children achieve and learn if we remove the structures of our current school system. What world problems would they solve if we allowed children to explore, learn and develop new ways of learning and knowing. What would happen to all the children that spend years feeling horrible about themselves because they aren’t good readers, can’t spell or heaven forbid, can’t memorize math facts. Would these same children be the ones that grasp ahold of our new ways of knowing and change the world for the better? I suppose we wont know unless we try. If these ideas interest you, I highly recommend listening to this TED talk and imaging what the future of schooling could be. I look forward to the conversation changing from one that is focused on the education system being broken to one that is focused on how it can change to meet the needs of the future.