Michael Strong talks about innovation in education.
Whereas once people believed that education would change the world, now people across the political spectrum tend to be skeptical. Academic performance remains stagnant despite a threefold increase in per pupil spending over the past forty years. We’ve tried thousands of new methods, pedagogies, textbooks, software, testing regimes, teacher training programs, etc. within the existing constraints without progress. Diverse thinkers (Plato, Rousseau, Kant, Jefferson, Dewey, etc.) in the western tradition believed that education could be transformative. The current zeitgeist is that we’ve reached the limits of what education can achieve. Were the earlier dreams of philosophers, humanists, and educators simply wrong about the potential of education?
He goes on to speculate that innovation is stalled because the vast majority of education happens in a government controlled system, where true freedom is limited. Everyone uses the type of school day, same type of textbooks, same type of tests, same type of teacher credentialing, same type of classrooms, etc. Even the private schools are constrained to follow this model, so that their students are more directly comparable to public school students for overall academic rankings and for college admissions.
It’s an intriguing hypothesis and I think he might be on to something. Education has looked pretty much the same for the last 80 years. Is that true for any other industry? Might that very rigidity and conformity be holding back education?