The Future of Education

The wisdom of the deplorables has a simple application to all levels of education except some trade and specialty schools: the system costs too much, doesn't adequately teach the basics, and is largely committed to enforcing political and cultural norms not generally shared by those who pay for it.

The critics are right, but it's actually much worse than that: it's not just that we're producing high school graduates who can't read and University graduates who can't think, it's that we're capping the potential inherent in many of our best and hardest working students while consigning those without intellectual gifts or well off families to an underclass of ignorables.

The political left's answer, roundly endorsed by liberal professors and teacher's unions worldwide, is to stratify society with a very small number of students in the namenclatura receiving first class traditional educations in dedicated schools while all others undergo state controlled streaming into subservient roles in the military, the sciences, trades, or various categories of the unskilled.

The answer that is now starting to take shape in the United States is nearly the opposite of that: development is at the Henry Ford tinkering in his garage stage, but just as his decision to make cheap cars for ordinary Americans while European companies only made them for the very rich meshed with the American constitutional idea to drive rapid and fundamental social and technical change around the world, the coming change in American Education is going to be very fast, all-encompassing, and driven by Christian ideas about individual responsibility and human equality.

Here's what's coming: almost all schools, from pre-K to post grad, are going abandon the teaching of facts, ideas, and methods to become, instead, social and resource centers for the assimilation and integration of "book learning" through physical and social interaction. Almost all traditional teaching other than hands-on training and socialization will be done via on-line VR courses students can take at any time, from anywhere, provided only that they can demonstrate the prerequisite skills.

Notice, in this, that no one can learn laboratory technique without a laboratory, medicine without a hospital, or engine maintenance without tools, engines, and experienced instructors, so the school as social center will look much like a sports or hobby club while the school as resource center will look much like today's best trade schools.

On average little Johnny will, at age 6, know how to read and write (albeit using a keyboard or dictation) because the parents joined with the former teacher down the street who looks after a bunch of kids all day to help him access the right courseware to get him started. Two days a week or so he'll race off to school, not to learn anything formally, but to hang out with real world friends and in that process integrate what he has learned. Ten years later his older self will be studying concrete finishing, mechanical engineering, or Dirac's equations in much the same way: learning facts and methods using courseware in virtual reality and racing off to a resource center to assimilate what he's learning by interacting with peers.

These local centers will start out as education focused day care centers largely aimed at enabling the two income family, but quickly morph into a formal structure with defined standards, qualifications, and certification - with the first companies to develop national educational franchises implementing this model quickly becoming billion dollar businesses.

The advantages to this structure are so overwhelming they are going to make Ford's replacement of the horse and carriage with the Model T look slow and tentative by comparison - and the democratic party's ability to delay the Interstate Highway system by thirty years won't be matched this time.

For example:


  1. the one-size-fits-all model for education ends. Little Johnny can take any course he qualifies for and whether he's doing calculus at age nine or learning to color between the lines is up to him. One key result is that course progress for individuals will no longer be limited by the slowest or most violence prone in a school, grade, or class - while those struggling to achieve limited successes will see goals and peer group comparisons that are within reach.


  2. since courseware is about equally blind to skin color, dirty fingernails, and daddy's chauffeured limo, Johnny's accomplishments will count for more than they do now while age, skin color, and parental status will matter much less. As one result the social power now held by the pretty party people will weaken as the traditional symbiosis between administrators and the socially visible gives way to a new balance weighted more toward fostering individual accomplishment.


  3. the ability for anyone to enter any course at any time simply by meeting the prerequisites and getting started means, among many other things, that many of the time constraints imposed by organizational scheduling simply go away. As a result some will be earning PhD's at 14, most will learn far more over roughly the same time periods than today's students, while those who need more time can take time without major penalty. Thus the gifted kid whose parents can't afford years of university can work a job while taking the same courses at a lower rate than his better-off counterpart to graduate a year or two later with the same qualifications, broader experience, and no more debt than his luckier colleagues.


  4. right now education budgets and curriculae are driven by the need to balance expenditures between meeting educational expectations, maintaining political correctness, and managing the consequences  of not segregating students by ability and attitude. All of those forces get re-aligned: divorcing sports from academics and wholly dropping quotas lets educators focus on education while the support offered at the interaction centers will necessarily build around naturally forming peer groups.

In theory these changes should cut the direct dollar cost of education to the public by about two thirds. In reality, however, systems evolve to use the resources they have and so some high profile cost cutting will happen fairly early on as traditional schools lose enrollment, but not really amount to much in the longer term. Instead, the majority of current spending will continue but get re-directed - the teaching role will, for example, change dramatically but the total cost of keeping the system going won't change very much as the social and resource center roles expand to use funds released by abandoning the classroom model.

Bottom line: the direction of education is up: the class of 2030 in any grade, school, or university will know more, and have assimilated it better, than their counterparts today.



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