Sunday, September 20, 2009

What does Dan Piink say about schools?

See Daniel Pink’s discussion of changes in education in his book, Free Agent Nation, chapter 15:

Whenever I walk into a public school, I'm nearly toppled by a wave of nostalgia. Most schools I've visited in the 21st century look and feel exactly like the public schools I attended in the 1970s. The classrooms are the same size. The desks stand in those same rows. Bulletin boards preview the next national holiday. The hallways even smell the same. Sure, some classrooms might have a computer or two. But in most respects, the schools American children attend today seem indistinguishable from the ones their parents and grandparents attended.

(Pink asks, “How many other places look and feel exactly as they did 40 years ago?” He goes on to discuss the history of mass education. He ends with the following points.)

In the future, expect teens and their families to force an end to high school as we know it. Look for some of these changes to replace and augment traditional high schools with free-agent-style learning -- and to unschool the American teenager:

* A renaissance of apprenticeships. Traditional high schools tend to separate learning and doing. For centuries, young people learned a craft or profession under the guidance of an experienced master. This method will revive and expand to include skills like computer programming and graphic design. Imagine a 14-year-old taking two or three academic courses each week, and spending the rest of her time apprenticing as a commercial artist.

* Teenage entrepreneurship.
Most teens have the two crucial traits of a successful entrepreneur: a fresh way of looking at the world and a passionate intensity for what they do. In San Diego County, 8 percent of high school students already run their own online business.

* A greater diversity of academic courses.
Only 16 states offer basic economics in high school. Expect a surge of new kinds of "home economics" courses that teach accounting and basic business skills.

Most politicians think the answer to the problems of high schools is to exert more control. But the real answer is less control. In the future, our teens will learn by less schooling and more doing.
(Dan Pink, Free Agent Nation.)

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