What do these three things have in common, and why on earth would I waste your time asking you that question?
If you’re of a certain vintage you’ll be aware of just how amazing Nokia phones were.
What’s that? You can’t remember? Check this out.
Of course, Sony Walkmans were so popular even competitor’s offerings were referred to as Walkmans, and how many times have you thanked your lucky stars that your Kodak Moments weren’t captured in the era of Facebook or Instagram?
Nowadays, a straw poll of any group I speak with shows that very few have a Nokia phone, Sony Walkman (yes they still make and sell Walkmans) or have a Kodak anything…
Why? We haven’t stopped communicating, listening to music or taking pictures – in fact we’re probably doing all three more than any generation before us – and yet all three companies have had to diversify to survive.
How did Sony in particular, given they owned a heck of a lot of music and the most widely used personal music device, miss the boat?
Is it possible they were so confident in what they were offering, they didn’t need to consider an alternative scenario?
Maybe. Lot’s of analysts have… erm… analysed the ups and downs of these companies in more detail than I have here, but that’s what I see they have in common.
Ok… so why waste your time with that?
What if education institutions as we know them are the Nokia, Sony and Kodak of Learning. We all know people – lots of them – who attend them, work in them and/or are generally in favour of them. They are the market leaders in Learning so to speak, with a captive audience.
Most would agree that education institutions offer two things – amongst a raft of other opportunities of course.
How has technology and changes in society and the economy disrupted this? Well the truth is, they haven’t – not much – really – yet.
But what about when they do? What will happen when society realises some of the short comings of its education system?
At one end of the academic spectrum, the majority of the long-term unemployed are young people who left school in the last ten years, whilst at the other, hundreds of medical graduates can’t find internships.
I wrote a fair bit about the fact we’re educating our kids into unemployment for the Sydney Morning Herald.
Anyhoo… I noticed of late there seems to be some fairly distinctive lines being drawn in the sand with regard to the whole “Is School Fit for Purpose?” debate…
And these lines are not really furthering the debate. Too many are picking sides, picking names (progressive, traditionalist, 21C, anythingpreneur etc.) and picking fights.
A case in point:
This is a tweet from Britain’s School Behaviour Tzar Tom Bennett:
Oh God, the future’s run by an idiot pic.twitter.com/rbhMVDbvak
— Tom Bennett (@tombennett71) September 11, 2015
Now to be fair to Tom – he is an incredibly well-respected (by the profession & the government) commentator – some of the language in the graphic that he links to is well and truly ripe for a laugh, but I fear that by setting it up as the work of “an idiot” – he encourages the subsequent replies that his tweet receives… all eye-rolling etc…
The fact is that some of the concepts that the graphic is trying to convey are worth discussing. To deny that seems a bit daft to me, And by going to the nth degree – on either side of the debate – much of the nuance in lost.
I believe it’s in this nuanced space where the education debate must take place so we can ask and then address questions like:
The problem in education at the moment is all the so call experts trying to tell achool leaders and teachers what to do as though it’s a one size fits all. As you rightly point out, Finland is not the answer, neither is Singpore, Shanghai, Hong Kong or any other country’s education system.
It’s a pity people keep talking down Aust education system. It’s not broken, it transforming and there’s so much good to celebrate.
Thx for taking the time to read and comment John! There does seem to be a lot of ‘telling’ as opposed to ‘talking’ doesn’t there?
On the flip side to ‘outdated institutions’. Do you think online colleges are taking away from the ‘social development’ of students that we used to receive from face to face studies?
Socially, what type of student will ‘isolated laptop-bound’ students be compared to students of the past who have studied alongside other students in a face to face environment?
Interested to see what you think.
Thanks for your comment.
I’ve no idea what type of student we’ll get if they are ‘isolated laptop bound’ and quite frankly I hope we never find out.
I’m not a fan of either/or debates and I am not making the case that students should learn purely in online spaces – unless it is appropriate for them to do so of course – rather this is a much broader debate which should examine everything we do in schools in light of the ever-changing world in which we live. Does that mean throwing everything out? Of course not.
Cheers again for taking the time to read and comment! Much appreciated 🙂