Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Future of Education

I like to simplify and use analogies to communicate my thoughts so bear with me while I try my best to lay out my concept.

I will start with knowledge is like water. Water finds a flow path constrained by the natural or man made topography.

The waterfall represents how knowledge is transformed by individual interaction and meanders from point to point unrestrained except by inertia or opportunity and you dip into it according to your need whether it be a bucket or a cup. The aqueduct represents knowledge which is focused for a purpose and is both controlled and controlling.

Now I am going to introduce the human factor.

The canoe represents the fundamental tools for using knowledge. A framework that contains the current method of utilizing the water(knowledge). One person represents the guide (teacher) with a passenger (student). The guide determines the configuration of the vehicle, direction, auxiliary tools(paddles) and the passenger follows the instructions of the guide. After enough practice and testing the passenger is allowed to go off on their own trip by themselves and eventually build their own canoe with whatever modifications in design they can make work. Over time they become guides or resources. There is collaboration and agreement amongst the guide(teacher) community as to best methods and tools.


The growth and speed of increasing knowledge is like a meteor strike that immediately transforms the topography so that constraints(dams) are overwhelmed and natural terrain allows new paths without the constraint of previous flow. The knowledge and skill of the guides is minimized or of no practical use and the vehicle no longer the best tool. The guide has to ride the new river with no idea where it now goes and whether he is going to come through with their passenger intact to create new guidelines because each time they go out there is uncertainty as to what will happen.

The result is that the guide and passenger need to modify their roles. It becomes a collaboration where the guide ensures that basic skills are known such as the qualities of different woods, how to read the topography and how to call on other sources of information and use and the passenger becomes a junior guide with responsibility for intelligent questioning and creativity and ownership in the solution.

The guide has the responsibility to point out resources and various methodologies and then get out of the way of the new junior guide by elevating them to a full team member. Through conversation, research and testing they jointly create new paradigms which will in turn create new vehicles and tools which are then placed under constant review and revision.

This is the new future of education as I see it and emphasizes the need to take responsibility for your own self-learning.

Comments and discussion is invited.


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6 conversations:

Steli Efti said...

That´s a very interesting metaphor! It got me thinking...hmm...I´ll return later to share my thoughts!

Comedy + said...

Wow, the first part was easy to follow, but the last part got pretty deep. I like the way you think. I guess that's why I visit everyday... See you Monday.

Peter Haslam said...

Thank you for your comments. I need to do a little more work on the second part to make it easier to follow. But it was a start point and your discussion allows me to rethink the explanation.

Digital Nomad said...

Peter, you are a great thinker. When you boil it down, it's all just "words" and "pictures".

When you think about it, this is how our memory and computers both work...linking words and pictures together to illustrate ideas.

Peter Haslam said...

digital nomad thanks for your input. I like your observation. Makes sense

pebble beach homes said...

That is a great analogy. Water really is like knowledge, constant and abundant.