Wonderful rousing comment on the future of education from Rob Tucker… Simple, eloquent analysis. He suggests a move from Athenian model of learning – passive, unquestioning, respectful, to an approach where balls come before wisdom. I heartily approve!
Sparta. Not Athens. Not wisdom for wisdom’s sake. Not a respect for the depth and complexity of thought solely in proportion to its depth and complexity. Not a model that assumes a distinct hierarchy between the teacher and the student or where the student is more-or-less passive, a vessel to be filled. Instead of these more “Athenian” virtues, we’d want our young Spartans to be:
- Brave – To fully participate in the web is to expose yourself to the slings and arrows of dreadful slander, calumny, and misrepresentation. It is to know the genuine feeling of injury – to be attacked and to defend yourself. The web is not a gentle place and its future will be less so. We should raise our students to have thick skin – when we expect that skin to be exposed to the breadth and depth of the world itself.
- Determined – the Web is big. As Douglas Adams would phrase it “vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big.” The intellectual ground to be explored by today’s ten year-old is as vast as the Louisiana Purchase. Each must find their way to the sea and to do so they must have resolve far beyond what the students of a decade ago were expected to possess. Day in. Day out. Tenacity.
- Honest – web-based relationships are tenuous. On the internet, no one knows you’re a dog. Because of the anonymity of the medium, we risk more when we choose to trust. But we have to trust each other if we are to realize the potential of the medium. If we are to raise full citizens of the web we must teach them that honesty is non-negotiable and that credibility is the web’s most fragile and most valuable commodity.
- Resourceful – They should be able to make do. We can be confident that the next five to ten years will be a time right out of Dickens – the best and the worst. Whether we are on the road to genuine economic recovery or whether darker storm clouds in Europe or the waning impact of the Stimulus package are portents of darker days to come, the undeniable truth is that most State budgets are in ruins. As sad as it is true: we can’t afford to give our children the technology they deserve. We can, though, provide them with what they need: A can-do spirit and a disciplined optimism.