I have been on a mission for the last week…
In the last 3 days I have delivered six trainings on accelerated learning to various parts of the community across a diverse range of demographics.
It was my contribution to Adult learners week for my friends and neighbours.
I was also curious about how interested people are in taking charge of their destiny through learning how to change and adapt more easily and quickly.
That’s what education and learning are.
Change and adaptation.
And there are two ways to carry out this learning process. You can learn proactively, by observing that the world we live in is changing very rapidly, and gathering skills that will allow you to adapt most easily to those changes.
And there’s the reactive option. This is where the horse bolts from the stable and you rush to shut the door behind it.
It is my belief that our current education system falls into the latter category and that it has got it all wrong at a very fundamental level.
The education system that we attended and which our children currently are getting, was created to get factory workers ready for a life operating the machines back in the 1800s during the industrial age. At that time the social strata was pretty rigid and people had no real hope of any upward mobility from the working class to the middle class. This was also due in part to the fact that the middle class as we now know it, was a result of industrialisation and came into being at a later time.
The education system of early, industrialised England was designed for a very specific purpose.
Allow me to explain this and then I’ll tell you about the sort of education system we could have, should have…and why that is.
Schools were created as the answer to a social problem.
The problem was that at the beginning of the industrial age people were not used to being ruled by the clock. Many of them had probably never seen a clock, particularly if they lived in the country. Of those that were in towns there was no consistent time that was used by every single clock. One might say quarter past and one would say perhaps twenty to the hour. It has been said that”The clock, not the steam-engine, is the key-machine of the modern industrial age. […] The clock […] is a piece of power-machinery whose ‘product’ is seconds and minutes […] It was the coming of the railways that brought about universal or synchronised time.
Up until the time of the industrial revolution the majority of people told the time by the rising and setting of the sun and the seasons of the year. They would work only when they had to, attending to the needs of their crops and animals or when they were commissioned to do a job. The first industrial workers would show up and work, only until such time that they had enough money for grog or laudunum and wouldn’t return until that money was gone.
The thing was how do you get a population who were used to working and producing only when necessity required it, to show up every day at the factories to do their work ?
The factory owners devised a plan…
There were two primary tools used to create compliance. The first was the church and the superstitions that they promoted about eternal damnation and hellfire which were preached every Sunday from pulpits across the world. With it’s admonitions against slothfulness the church held powerful sway over the mind of the working class.
The second tool was the education system which to all outward appearances was to teach reading, writing and arithmetic. Here, there was a more sinister agenda at work which was to teach obedience and punctuality to the worker class. They were conditioned to obey at school and in church.
Factory owners had a vested interest in keeping the education system going and the churches too as they did the work of creating a class of subservient workers who didn’t argue or dissent too much. As such they would contribute to church funds as well as keeping the school doors open. As a result of their compliance the collection plates were kept filled from their wages.
This worked well in a society where change was slow and relatively predictable. In a culture where you could expect a job for life the need to learn was diminished. You knew your place and fought to maintain it. This has also been evidenced by the actions of Trade unions which also have a vested interest in keeping their collection plates filled and maintaining the status quo ….
One of the most important factors in education was that it produced a measurable product.
As such it had to be homogenised. The quotation below is from Education in England: A brief history
“Bell’s method involved the use of monitors and standard repetitive exercises so that one master could teach hundreds of children at the same time in one room. It was the industrialisation of the teaching process.”
Fast forward 150 years to 21st century, planet Earth…
Change and innovation are the norm now…
Consider what has happened in just the last ten years. Most homes in the developed world have a computer and a connection to the internet. <<< click this link for details on the most connected countries on the planet.
( You will note that the authors have included many countries that were once considered to be “developing” )
Many people also have mobile devices through which they can access an enormous quantity of information at the press of a button. The quantity of information that is available to humanity is doubling now approximately every 10-11 months. The average person in the developed world is exposed to over 10,000 pieces of advertising every single day, between TV, Radio, newspapers and print ads, billboards, emails, text advertising and all of the other forms of marketing.
We have access to 100s of TV channels and literally billions of web pages of data.
There is no longer a job for life. In fact it is reckoned that the average school leaver in the 21st Century will have between 4-6 careers between leaving school and retirement.
So doesn’t it makes sense to be able to adapt to the changing environment and adapt as rapidly and easily as possible. If you are a business owner or a worker this one skill could be the key to 21st century success.
Please read this short article from the BBC for a view on the globalisation of work.. before you read any further
Yet we still teach WHAT to learn rather than HOW to learn. Our education system is based on a paradigm that became extinct with the advent of globalisation and international outsourcing. And even that model is now failing as robots and computers are now replacing cheap labour with virtually free labour.
When you add in the pressures on the environment through degradation and loss of arable land, diminishing energy sources and coupled with increasing demand from the developing world we face a scenario that we have not planned for.
I believe we need to totally transform our education system so that it allows for more creativity through right brained activity as opposed to the rigid and enforced left brain education system we currently have. We need to be more creative in finding solutions by learning how to use all of our brain when thinking and learning.
First…you need to understand how your brain processes information.