The first thing to say about state education is that it is entirely based on education for industry. Education came into being to serve the industrial revolution and it hasn't changed by any significant degree since. This has led to disastrous consequences because no one leaves education fit for life. If that seems a bit far fetched, a few examples will quickly resolve this. In school do we learn how to change a nappy, how to tax a motor vehicle, how to clean and dust a home (top down for those interested), how to apply for a mortgage or rent a home, how to manage a home filing system, how to task share in the home, to be fit for life outside of work?
This form of education leaves every pupil with a very particular mind set, work is important and everything else is peripheral to work, or less important. This begs a question, do we live to work or do we work to live?
In recent years one of the most offensive terms ever to be applied to human beings has come into being, 'Human Resources'. This term places human beings on a par with any machine or nut and bolt, no more than a resource or process in the world of industry. Imagine approaching the manager of a band, or going back stage at a theatre and commenting on the quality of their human resources. This depersonalisation of human beings over time is a disaster and has had severe social consequences.
Let's be very clear about this, industry serves human kind, what else is it there for? Today human beings have become enslaved to industry and profit or the production of profit. There can be no doubt about the value of industry, it provides us with homes, clothes, refrigerators, fitted kitchens and everything that fills our homes, our streets and our modern world. Yet without humans there is no industry, for humans to be subservient to industry is about as offensive as it gets.
The future of education must change if we do not want a completely dysfunctional society. All the signs are there that society is becoming more dysfunctional, for which the blame is firmly laid at the doors of families, human society and individuals. That is very useful, for industry and politicians, but it is a very short sighted view and, perhaps profitably and deliberately, fails to engage with a much bigger picture, a picture we can no longer afford to ignore.
Modern education prepares us for a competitive market place and modern society is a very competitive place*. Yet it is as true today as it has ever been, human kind exist only through co-operation. Today that might not seem as obvious as it should be. Yet if you are reading this, you are reading it only through the co-operative labour of literally thousands, perhaps millions, of people. Try to imagine the number of people involved in producing the raw materials, design, manufacture and production, transport, retailing and selling you this monitor. It's an impossible task and you are utterly reliant on every single one of the co-operative endeavors of each one of those people. Too great a task? Try the same task with a single can of beans. It's just impossible. They don't teach stuff like that in schools but it is long overdue they did.
* The myth of the self made man and the sheer arrogant ingratitude to the cast of millions who got him to where he is today beggars belief, yet people believe him. Something is clearly not quite right and the problem lies in our mis-educated minds.
© 2011 Keith Lindsay-Cameron.