27 Theses of Education Reform

I originally published these thoughts on the Exosphere website, but we decided to shelve them in our updated content because they can seem a bit tedious to the uninitiated. Nevertheless, I wanted to re-publish them here both so I can refer to them out in the world of social media and for people to be able to engage in an ongoing dialog in the comments.

1. Elite higher education must be elite in quality only, not quantity supplied; for a world with 7 billion people, we have a severe shortage of elite education supply.

2. Elite higher education can be offered at an affordable price, without needing to be subsidized.

3. Education should be outcome-oriented, not credential-oriented.

4. Learned people need to be as skilled at un-learning old information as at learning new information.

5. There is no orthodoxy: all ‘settled’ questions should be presumed to be settled only temporarily until new discoveries inevitably challenge them.

6. There is no universal canon of knowledge that everybody must learn in order to be considered ‘educated.’

7. The Two Cultures dichotomy must be obliterated from our consciousness.

8. The division of knowledge into disciplines must be rejected in order to integrate our understanding of the world; interdisciplinarity is insufficient as it merely reinforces the disciplines.

9. The Learner, not the Subject-matter, must be considered to be sovereign.

10. The Enlightenment principle of disinterested inquiry must give way to a more humane vision of interested, Progress-Oriented inquiry.

11. Learning is a life-long vocation (calling) that must be cultivated from youth and continued through old age.

12. Adulthood is a universal vocation that must be nurtured by the educational process; adulthood is characterized by self-reliance, community participation, and respect for others.

13. Creativity is a universal vocation that the educational process should foster rather than suppress.

14. Educators need to love their pupils and take an active interest in their lives rather than keeping them at arms-length.

15. All subject-matter is connected to the real world and should be learned as such.

16. Nobody should ever leave their educational community (‘graduate’) but rather their participation in it should evolve organically over time.

17. Learning should be guided, but principally self-motivated and self-directed.

18. Learning should not be the passive absorption of information, but the synthesis of information into action and creation; that is, learning should be production-focused, not consumption-focused.

19. Most information abilities can be developed in substantially less time than under traditional education methods when the abilities are necessitated by something that the learner is presently passionate about doing.

20. Passion discovery is an integral part of learning; without passion, all knowledge is hollow.

21. The framework for learning should be systems, not subjects. Systems are real, subjects are arbitrary.

22. Learning is enhanced when all participants in the process view each other with mutual respect; consequently, the line between ‘teacher’ and ‘student’ must be blurred.

23. Educators must stop looking at themselves as imparters of knowledge but instead as Sherpas guiding their pupils on an expedition of self-actualization, of which the acquisition of knowledge is but one component.

24. Education is over-programmed, over-planned, and over-managed, leaving little room for inspiration, reflection, and serendipity.

25. Education should not be about ‘civilizing’ the learner, or about bringing her into conformity with society; hence, education ought not be about enlightenment, but empowerment.

26. The front-lines of research and discovery should be fully integrated with the people who are commercializing innovation and bringing its benefits to society at-large.

27. Social responsibility and solidarity must be at the heart of all educational reformation.

  • http://www.fishingbuddha.com/ Amit Sonawane

    Number 24 is my favorite as I have struggled with the same in the past. These are some great points, Skinner.