Thoughts on Year 2060: Education Predications

Posted by Debby on 17th April and posted in Innovation

My Future of Education class was asked to watch a video titled “Year 2060: Education Predictions” as part of their study on futuring techniques. They are developing their own vision for education in the years ahead.

After viewing, one of the students posted some questions and comments:

  • What are the credentials of the speaker in the video?
  • Did anyone else see holes in his predictions due to lack of facts to base his thoughts on?
  • What schools did he attend?
  • What projects has he built?
  • Where does he gather data?
  • Did he gather data or just pontificate?
  • Is this one of those internet viral videos that i keep hearing about? ūüėČ

I am a firm believer in the value of the arts.  I believe that the arts embellish a society; they do not make it go. How can a top heavy society of thinkers, philosophers, painters and musicians function? Anyone else want to comment?  Did I miss the point?

I responded back with:

You are talking about the Salman Khan video, right? He has skyrocketed to the top of awareness because of his videos, and he is quite popular in schools utilizing his site as free tutorials. However, he has come under quite a bit of fire from the education community in general because of his lack of credentials as an educator. Below are a few of the responses I’ve seen.

Are they right? Is he right? I suspect the truth is somewhere in between. He did something for his nieces and nephews that caught fire on YouTube and as a result he’s been swept up into the education reform movement, a place he never really intended to be. I mean, seriously, who wouldn’t get all excited when Google tosses a few million at you because you have a cool idea? I think he’s a very smart man who loves to learn and who has some ideas on what might work to reform education based on his own limited experience in the field. I think he has a lot more to learn but I think anything or anyone that stirs up the conversation about what to do with a broken education system is probably a good thing.

One of the issues with education reform is that we often latch on to the next great thing because it worked in a limited arena and then we ask how we can scale it to a nationwide change in education. That might work if we had a homogenous society, if our geographic and socio-economic scale wasn’t so large and diverse, if there was a national identity that emphasized conformity over individuality and innovation. I am strongly convinced that the farther away from the individual student decisions are made, the less effective they are in the actual classroom. The people best equipped to understand what is happening locally, on the ground, with individual students are the teachers who are in the room with them every day… but not many policy makers are asking them. Instead, they are seen as being the ones who are at the root of the problem while their authority as professional educators to actually do something about the problem is taken away. I know teachers who are required to read from scripted curriculum daily and if they linger to help students understand, are reprimanded for being behind the standard schedule. Wow… really? One of my grad school profs recently wrote an article titled Teachers Should Cry, Get Mad, Do Something!¬†and he’s right. It’s hard to do that though, when they are so focused on helping the kids in the classroom. Honestly, I think every policy maker should be required to spend a month teaching kindergarden before they are allowed to vote on education issues!

So, back to your questions. You can google to find out what schools he attended and the Khan Academy website is his big project to date. That’s nothing to sneeze at. It is a useful tool and he’s put a lot of hard work into making it successful. Can it replace teachers? My own experience with my own kids using it says “no”. I don’t know where he gathered his data from (maybe the internet somewhere?) or what schema he is operating under that influences his interpretation of the data. He has a lot of influence right now due to the popularity of his website and he may be using that as a platform to toss out his ideas on the future of education. Whether those ideas are valid or not remains to be seen. I give him a lot of credit for standing up there and making a case in what is probably one of the most contentious debates happening right now. I think it is up to us, as educators, as parents, as members of a society that will someday depend on the kids who are being educated right now to ask the questions you did, to think through where this is all taking us, and to consider how we are going to get from here to there. The future of education, and our own future, depends on it!

So… what do you think about Mr. Khan’s vision of the future? Is he on the right track? Is he way off base? How do YOU see the role of the teacher in the future? Of the classroom? It’s time to start thinking about these things!

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