Form follows function…
The structure that leads to determining the selection of proper technology is usually where the problem occurs. For example, one would think the acquiring of a career would be the goal of almost any education. That is a little bit of a reach. The development of critical thought skills is the real goal of education. However, if those skills do not culminate in a useful person/career then do we not have to question the criteria that we use to determine the content of the course of study? It is great to study left-handed piccolo playing—lord knows the world has not focused properly on this discipline, but if there is minimal need—that this skill provides no great service to humanity—then should we continue to offer it?
The question is: Who determines the value of that service to humanity? Does the free market? If so, are we then set to the whim and whimsy of the marketplace? Well, hasn’t that always been the way? Engineering and law schools have shut down in the past. Curriculums have been changed. Why not change the entire model? Why not construct a model so flexible it can bend to match the needs of the marketplace as it pertains to the advancement of society. Ah, but there is the rub. Who determines the proper advancement of society? Is there always to be a lower level that serves the upper class? Isn’t automation taking those jobs away and replacing them with extremely low-paying services jobs, creating a working poor the likes of which we have never seen since the tenements of the 1900s?
Have we already created a stratum that no longer has the potential for upward mobility? Was that the goal all along? You know “The Mushroom Theory”—keep them in the dark and feed them manure. Well, what has that wrought?
Thomas Jefferson (you know, the guy the Texans want removed from all American history textbooks) stated basically, “What will we do with the poor?”—even he could see more than 230 years ago a separation of classes ultimately would lead to a major problem. Please review his letters to another socialist Benjamin Franklin. They were both concerned with the digital divide (so to speak).
Slight of hand
The real question that comes from all of this is “Was it designed this way?” I am not that bright and even I can see the path we are administering is not a straight and decisive one. It borders on three-card monte. “Who’s got the career skill sets, who’s got the career skill sets? Follow the technology, follow the technology.”
This isn’t the first time, either. Years ago when the typewriter was invented the developers found that the users were adapting so quickly that the speed at which they could type using an alphabetical keyboard was jamming the keys and making their product unusable. So they designed the QWERTY keyboard. This slowed down the typing to keep up with their machines capabilities. In so much as guaranteeing its place in industry but yet slowing industry’s capabilities to meet their own needs. They got rich and the public got a substandard benefit from the product—the good of a few, over the benefit of the entire world. I guess they weren’t socialists. Is that what was and is happening in education? Slow down the growth of knowledge so the current management could manage the structure to their benefit? Were we purposely driving the penguins around town so as not to get them to their natural habitat? How does it benefit the upper class if everyone is working to his or her potential?
Basically we are a nation of immigrants (shh… don’t tell McCain and Palin) and we tremendously respect education and educators, we find it difficult to challenge them like lawyers and doctors. But if we don’t, then have all those years of developing critical thought been wasted? Have all those analytical skill sets been for nothing? What about the poor little rubrics?
The first question we might ponder is—if we continue on the path we are on, how will we ever get those penguins to the zoo?