I have spoken before about the ways society organizes itself to accomplish tasks. Probably the first organizations like this were tribes of people thousands of years ago. Naturally, the bonds of these organizations can be strong or weak. Organizations that have strong bonds tend to endure even over attempts by others to force other structures on us. There are several examples I can give.
- In Afganistan, the US backed central government is trying to keep it’s grip on the country but the mountain tribes have much stronger ties to each others. Therefore they are resisting efforts to centralize authority.
- In Iraq there are three major ethnic groups and they fight all the time. It took a dictator like Saddam Hussein to keep order (not that I am in favor of that).
- In Europe they created the European Union and even today over 10 years later they still act more like individual countries than one large country (I know this is over simplifying it).
As I look around the world, I see social structures being torn down. I call this the disaggregation of society. We are moving from organizations based on location to organizations based on ideas and culture. All of this is being driven by the Internet and is happening in every part of society… except education.
What are the organizing principles of education?
- You go to school based on where you live.
- You are put into a classroom with people your same age.
- You are taught by a person who lives nearby.
- Everyone is taught the same thing.
- Everyone has the same amount of time to learn things.
- The student has no choice on what to learn, when to learn it and how much time to spend on it.
As I look around society, I realized I don’t see anything else that is organized like this, so perhaps education is unique? If so, does that make it immune to the disaggregation effect sweeping society? If not, perhaps there are other models of organizing in society that we can look to as a pattern for a future way to learn?
I want to explore this in the next few days.