Sunday, September 10, 2017

Digital Educational Delusions - Adding ROOTs and LEAVES to STEM

Bill Gates and Paul Allen dropped out of Harvard and Washington State University to build Microsoft.  Oprah Winfrey left Tennessee State University in her second year to become a media juggernaut.  Michael Dell’s pre-med aspirations were abandoned at 19 to start Dell Computers.  Steve Jobs couldn’t last a year at Reed College before following video games to a pilgrimage in India where he got the inspiration for Apple.  Mark Zuckerberg left Harvard after two years to start Facebook.  Oracle’s Larry Ellison dropped out of University of Illinois and University of Chicago – completing neither – when his CIA project at Ampex led to one of the greatest corporate successes in modern times.  JetBlue Airways founder’s learning disability made the University of Utah inaccessible to David Neeleman and he became a titan in the airlines.  Henry Ford ended his academic career at 16 and built the largest business of his time.  Buckminster Fuller was expelled from Harvard for “irresponsibility and lack of interest.” Walt Disney left school at 16 and developed one of the world’s most iconic media brands.  Richard Branson, Elizabeth Holmes, Adele, Evan Williams… these and hundreds of others who have achieved unprecedented commercial success made impulsive, adolescent decisions which shape all of our lives today. 

Do these social, technological, and industrial icons demonstrate the irrelevance of education?  No. Do they demonstrate a fundamental challenge incumbent models of education?  Absolutely.  The data is irrefutable that secondary and tertiary education offers socialization advantages at a far greater level than it equips young people to thrive in a rapidly changing environment.  Those who graduate – heavily indebted in most of the G-20 through their own investment or the public subsidies upon which they rely – do earn more than those who do not.  However, Australia has lower return on investment than the OECD average and lags the U.S. and the EU[1].  In a study of over 900 tertiary education providers in the U.S., nearly 1/3 of arts and humanities graduates were economically worse off than had they invested the same amount of money in U.S. Treasuries[2].  In short, education is not serving most of its consumers with genuine ROI.  And, employers are increasingly bearing the brunt of this social disservice – and are noticing. 

Education must transform to be relevant.  The student of the 21st century will not be known by professional affiliation or “proper noun” titles.  Rather the paradigm for the 21st century will take inspiration from Buckminster Fuller’s comment:

“I am not a thing – a noun.  I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process – an integral function of the universe.”

What does this mean?  First we must examine the core capabilities of the fully functioning education ecosystem.  As the abject failure of pundits and analysts have shown in the recent U.S. Presidential election, if you measure consensus assumptions, your conclusions are entirely wrong.   Therefore we must examine the context in which we are commencing inquiry and engagement rather than assuming we know that linear assumptions that are required by consensus.  In short, before we can analyse, we must learn to sense and perceive the analyte!

Therefore, we examine the nature of the student of the 21st century.

In a world where industrial production STEM obsession has resulted in Japan’s over 20-year retrocession, we must have explicit programs and experiences which challenge antiquated models of inquiry by expanding digital and analog powers of observation.  From this point, we can begin to understand systems and formulate models to understand and critique them.  This gives rise to explicit, integral value awareness and exchange that informs the design and techno-experiential frameworks in which we operate.  This fully sensory, fully engaged, and values-based engagement builds the foundation for the productive and purposeful global citizen.

From this awareness, we then directly see the emergence of a new paradigm for what would have been considered “disciplines” or “core competencies”.  Now, rather than focusing on reifying existing assumptions, we invite the student and faculty to engage in mutual development integrating the six domains of functional relevance for the enterprises of the 21st century.

These serve as our organizational principles for the pedagogical and experiential delivery of education in the 21st century.  And this does NOT mean that we take the broken system we have and "digitize" or "virtualize" it.  "Digital" learning in the 21st century is as laughable as it would have been to have "electrical" learning in the middle to latter 19th century.  When when mistakes a Utility for a Social Mandate, the consequences are inhumane and destructive.  STEM failed to produce critical thinkers and collaborators - it produced iPhone consensus zombies doing automatable tasks.  And it ignored the ROOT (Regenerative Organismal Orthogonal Training) and the LEAF (Life Experience Application Facility).  When we make the mistake of imagining only that world that industrial consumption dictates, we put our very existence in jeopardy.  

Our times call for high degrees of adaptation.  Our modes of education and socialization reward consensus.  It's time to prune the stem and let a new shoot emerge.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your comment. I look forward to considering this in the expanding dialogue. Dave