Education Reform's Most Interesting Question

Yesterday I listened to Tim Ferris's podcast with Peter Diamandis, where one of the questions focused on how to disrupt / reform our education system. Peter had an interesting and eloquent response focused on how Artificial Intelligence will completely change the way that we teach and learn.

As someone who has spent the majority of her career in online education: AMEN!

YES! AI has huge potential to change the way that we teach. We'll be able to play to each student's strengths, individualize the curriculum and challenges, gamify learning and level the playing field in a completely novel way.

BUT - and this is a huge but - how we teach is not the most interesting question in education reform.

WHY are we teaching?

Why we are teaching is the much bigger question that we need to answer. This is how we will be able to make good decisions about what we teach and how we teach it.

Currently, our education system is stuck in a highly industrialized mindset. Its about clocking in, rote memorization and not rocking the boat. It focuses on a single type of intelligence and relies heavily on carrot & stick motivation.

This is far from ideal training for the service and creativity sector jobs that currently comprise the majority our economy. In fact, you can point to it as a hindrance.

Typically, I think that we would say education is to prepare our children for the future. 

Or one can argue that education should focus on fostering happiness.

Or one can assert that we send kids to school to take children off their parent's hands - glorified daycare, if you will.

The reason that WHY is so much harder - and so much more compelling - is that it requires us to agree on a life goal for our society. Do we want our society to be happy, healthy, competitive, wealthy, powerful, contemplative, creative, regimented, disciplined, focused, carefree??? Should it be different for each student (probably). How is that determined?

Deciding why we are teaching requires us to define success. 

Defining success requires us to be contemplative, philosophical and slow down a little. Its a values issue with nothing black & white... with thousands of shades of grey.

Because, ultimately, no matter how good we get at teaching... it won't be effective unless we know why we are teaching in the first place.

LearningRebecca Rapple