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Global Future Education Advisory 004

Future-oriented Education: The practice of consciously shifting the balance of education toward a far more future-oriented perspective.


The Reformers Are Leaving Our Schools in the 20th Century


February 14, 2014 | Global Future Education Advisory 004

This month’s Global Future Education Advisory appeared in 2011, in Mark Anderson’s “SNS Newsletter” that goes to a large number of corporate CEOs and CIOs. I don’t think much has changed since then. We are still far too oriented toward the past rather than the future.
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THE REFOREMERS ARE LEAVING OUR SCHOOLS IN THE 20th CENTURY: Why most U.S. school reformers are on the wrong track, and how to get our kids’ education right for the future

by Marc Prensky
Published in SNS Newsletter, January 24, 2011
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What President Obama said:
“We need to out-educate.”

What Obama should have said:
“We can’t win the future with the education of the past.”

This is an unprecedented time in U.S. education, and awareness that we have a problem has never been higher. Billions of dollars of public and private money are lined up for solutions. But I am convinced that, with our present course, when all that momentum and money is spent, we shall nonetheless end up with an educational system that is incapable of preparing the bulk of our students for the issues and realities they will face in the 21st century.

The reason is that the educational improvement efforts now in place are aimed at bringing back the education that America offered students in the 20th century (with some technological enhancements). Sadly, too many people assume this is still the “right” education for today, although it no longer works for most of our students. Despite the many educational projects and programs now being funded and offered, practically no effort is being made to create and implement a better, more future-oriented education for all of our kids.

However well-meaning those who propose and fund today’s educational reforms may be, their aim is generally to improve something that is obsolete. They are obsessed by the “sit up straight, pay attention, take notes” fantasy of education past. “Discipline” (as opposed to self-discipline, or passion) is heard a lot – Obama used it in his SOTU speech. It does not matter how much money these reformers spend; because they are pursuing the wrong goal, their efforts are doomed to failure.

Even if, as result of such efforts, some students achieve better test scores, the current reforms will not solve our real educational problems, which are related not to test scores, but to the future. No matter how innovative a program may appear on the surface, it is money being thrown away. If we continue on our current course, we could, in the words of Mark Anderson, “even double or triple the amount being spent, and it wouldn’t move the meter one iota.”

The tragedy is that if we used the money and momentum now available with the right focus and effort, our students‟ education could be made real, valuable, and useful for the future – and fairly easily.

It wouldn‟t take that much work to decide what should be done – most educators could, I believe, come to consensus. But to get those changes accepted by a majority of our citizens, and to make them actually happen, will require much effort and change on the part of our educational and political leaders. It will also require some new thinking by many, including parents. That is where today‟s so-called education “reformers” – from Barack Obama to Arne Duncan to Bill Gates to Newt Gingrich – should be, in my opinion, focusing their efforts.

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Copyright 2011 Marc Prensky. All rights reserved.

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