I’ve just been watching (rewatching actually) Euan Semple’s talk on the Price of Pomposity at Life 09 in June of last year.
The core argument is clear, that the old style command and control and the heirarchies built upon it will find it increasingly difficult to compete in a knowledge economy where staff are “volunteers” rather than conscripts. In such an economy, effective managers are facilitators to collaboration, communication and understanding not “parents” dishing out tasks, plaudits and punishments to children.
Euan argues that organisations have to make a fundamental and difficult change but actually I believe that the scope of change is much greater and applies to society as a whole but most particularly to education.
The problem is that our entire education system, particularly in the UK where I currently reside, is based around command and control mentality, not only in the treatment and interactions with students but within the curriculum itself.
Education in Britain (and I suspect in many other countries) is designed to deliver moderately articulate manufacturing workers into the job market at the end of a long period of indoctrination into the command and control management systems of the post-war industrial age.
The difficulty is that first world economies are now if not in, at least rapidly moving towards, the post-industrial age. If we’re to have a true knowledge economy we need to change how we build and operate businesses and consequently to change how we educate and form the workforce which will staff them.
Fundamentally the educational curriculum and approach needs to change to one which not only teaches knowledge and skills but importantly, how to collaborate with others to achieve goals. The entire educational approach has to engage with pupils as partners, not subordinates, and collaborate with them to share (yes share! teachers and parents can learn from pupils too!) knowledge and learn the skills they need in a knowledge economy.
Pupils are already learning these skills in their home life by interacting with each other in information and collaboration rich social networking environments but education is not aligned with the reality of their world. It’s fundamentally failing to reinforce the positive education they’re getting in life and helping to guide them to right choices because it’s taken a “we don’t talk about facebook” stance.
Every time some kid gets into trouble because they make poor choices of who they interact with via social media tools, the hysterical reaction is focused keenly on the social network as if the tools, and the people who provide the tools are the source of the problem.
I, on the other hand, believe it’s the parents and teachers of the young person who should come under scrutiny. They have a duty of care to the child which they should not be allowed to abrogate simply because they don’t understand the means by which the child is putting themselves at risk.
Rather than sticking their heads in the sand or worse, pompously looking down their nose at these tools and the interactions they enable, they need to be educating themselves and discussing these tools, their use, risks and collaborating with their children and their children’s teachers to raise their collective education and awareness.
As it happens Euan Semple mentioned just such a head in the sand educational approach yesterday