21st Century Thinking: Mass Production of Human Thought?

`Sir Ken Robinson knows a thing or two about education. After all, he has studied education systems for his entire life. And he has learned that our education systems reflect the values that were prominent when those systems were created.  From that perspective, consider this thought (from an interview he recently gave)

There are many symptoms of the current malaise in education and they won’t be relieved unless we understand the deeper problems underlying them. One is the industrial character of public education. The issue in a nutshell is this: most developed countries did not have mass systems of public education much before the mid-19th century. These systems were developed to meet the labour needs of the Industrial Revolution and they are organised on the principles of mass production. The standards movement is allegedly focused on making these systems more efficient and accountable. The problem is that these systems are inherently unsuited to the wholly different circumstances of the 21st century.

So what circumstances of the 21st century does he refer to? the answer is already clear — at a societal level, we are moving beyond the need to squeeze further efficiencies out of mass production.  Instead, we are moving towards more creative understanding of why we make and buy things in the first place.


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