Thursday, 22 May 2008

Education futures ...

While companies and other organisations have had to change the way they structure themselves and operate to keep up to date over the decades, our education system has remained largely the same.  Sure, successive Governments have tinkered with the funding and selection policies but the way that children are taught has largely remained unchanged through all of that.  We have children who are six years old being taught how to look up and organise information by teachers who are sixty years old.  Many such children are now growing up within an environment where to look up things on Wikipedia or to Google extensively is a natural part of their normal activity. 

While businesses have largely embraced the idea of flexible working and collaborative outsourcing, the education system typically runs the same fixed hours and types of locations for classrooms which it always has, in some cases since Victorian times!   Education still also has a long way to go with exploiting collaborative technology to afford students new ways of learning compared to the traditional one teacher to many pupils model.  

The number of years needed to gain a degree has been constant for as long as people can remember and the University and general higher education policy in recent decades has been ruined by an artificial quest to raise numbers instead of maintaining quality.  The Open University was one of the products of the post-war era which along with the National Health Service came out of the need for innovation at that time, and indeed a period of desperation.  As Bob Geldof mentioned on Tuesday at the Innovation Edge conference, if necessity is the mother of invention, desperation is often the father of necessity.  Perhaps we will finally get round to proper reorganisation of the education system to better suit the needs of people today, when the country becomes even more desperate for a better skilled and prepared workforce, rather than just because the future technology will support a more collaborative approach?

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