We Need Discoverers
David Edwards from American Schools are Training Kids for a World That Doesn’t Exist:
Over the next twenty years the earth is predicted to add another two billion people. Having nearly exhausted nature’s ability to feed the planet, we now need to discover a new food system. The global climate will continue to change. To save our coastlines, and maintain acceptable living conditions for more than a billion people, we need to discover new science, engineering, design, and architectural methods, and pioneer economic models that sustain their implementation and maintenance. Microbiological threats will increase as our traditional techniques of anti-microbial defense lead to greater and greater resistances, and to thwart these we must discover new approaches to medical treatment, which we can afford, and implement in ways that incite compliance and good health. The many rich and varied human cultures of the earth will continue to mix, more rapidly than they ever have, through mass population movements and unprecedented information exchange, and to preserve social harmony we need to discover new cultural referents, practices, and environments of cultural exchange. In such conditions the futures of law, medicine, philosophy, engineering, and agriculture – with just about every other field – are to be rediscovered.
Americans need to learn how to discover.
Being dumb in the existing educational system is bad enough. Failing to create a new way of learning adapted to contemporary circumstances might be a national disaster. The good news is, some people are working on it.
The essay goes on to talk about the growth of the maker movement and an increasing urgency to explore new ways of thinking about education for the new challenges we face. Some in the comments disagree.
According to the group of teachers I spent the day with yesterday in Southern NJ, despite some movement toward more discovery learning outside of school, inside of school is getting worse. More testing. Pre-K Common Core curriculum. Fewer and fewer opportunities to stretch outside the classroom and the traditional pedagogies that everyone seems to expect in the new evaluation regimes.
Why are we doing this?
If nothing else, essays with titles like this one in major magazines and websites can at least push the conversation in a new direction. But until the educators themselves are willing to seriously take up the call for re-envisioning schools, not much will happen.