Monday, September 25, 2006

Principles of Educational Reconstruction

I was on the phone the other day with an old friend of mine, Herb Gerjuoy who may be one of the most intelligent and interesting people on the planet. Herb and I had a conversation about education and he introduced me to The Society for Educational Reconstruction.

So afterwards, I began digging into their ideas and came across a site that enumerates many of their principles. I'll simply give and introduction and list of items but I heartily urge you to use the link and read the longer piece. It's excellent.
We are about to enter the next century with the same basic learning system with which we entered this century. A previous Chief Inspector of Schools, Edmond Holmes, wrote off this kind of system, based on imposed uniformity, as 'The Tragedy of Education' in 1911. It was both anti-educational and unchristian, he explained. Bertrand Russell in 1935 gave his verdict: "We are faced with the paradoxical fact that education has become one of the chief obstacles to intelligence and freedom of thought." But since 1977 UK has gone back to just such a system. In this situation there is an urgent need to try to establish some principles of reconstruction if we are to cope with the challenges of the next century.

Principle one: Uniform approaches to all, are intellectual death to some

Principle two: What we want to see is the learner in pursuit of knowledge, and not knowledge in pursuit of the learner.

Principle three: The modern world requires behaviour flexibility and competence in all the three forms of discipline: authoritarian, autonomous and democratic

Principle four: With information doubling in quantity about every ten years we need a different kind of learning

Principle five: An iron law of education is that 'rigid systems produce rigid people and flexible systems produce flexible people'.

Principle six: An information-rich society allows a variety of learning locations

Principle seven: Deep learning is needed more than shallow learning

Principle eight: Effective teaching requires much more than being an instructor: welcome the 'learning coach' and the 'learning travel agent'.

Principle nine: Schooling and education are not the same thing.

Principle ten: We need to learn from the experience of home-based educators.

The one annotation I will add is that information is doubling much faster (exponentially faster) than Principle four acknowledges. That doubling contributes to the idea of a Singularity where transhuman interventions begin to appear (5-20 years from now).

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