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Finally, unless we capture control of the accelerative thrust—and there are few signs yet that we will—tomorrow's individual will have to cope with even more hectic change than we do today. For education the lesson is clear: its prime objective must be to increase the individual's "cope-ability"—the speed and economy with which he can adapt to continual change. And the faster the rate of change, the more attention must be devoted to discerning the pattern of future events.


It is no longer sufficient for Johnny to understand the past. It is not even enough for him to understand the present, for the here-and-now environment will soon vanish. Johnny must learn to anticipate the directions and rate of change. He must, to put it technically, learn to make repeated, probabilistic, increasingly long-range assumptions about the future. And so must Johnny's teachers. -- from Alvin Toffler. Future Shock (1970)

I'm trying to trace this notion of "the industrial model of school" (a.k.a. "the factory model" or "the Prussian model"). Toffler offers an early example of this invented history in the service of techno-futurism and cyber-libertarianism.

Industrial Man was machine-tooled by the schools to occupy a comparatively permanent slot in the social and economic order. Super-industrial education must prepare people to function in temporary organizations—the Ad-hocracies of tomorrow.

And ah, the famous quote from Future Shock that appears in so many education PowerPoint presentation (and  this actually isn't Toffler, to be clear. He's citing Herbert Gerjuoy):

Tomorrow's illiterate will not be the man who can't read; he will be the man who has not learned how to learn.

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Audrey Watters


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