Image found on Laughing Squid: The Power of Books, Photo Series Takes the Power of Reading Literally. From the photo series, “The Power of Books,” by designer Mladen Penev.
I listened to Sugata Mitra’s TED talk on self-organized learning, and it was extremely inspiring for anyone interested in learning or the education of children. Sugata Mitra won the TED Prize for 2013 to help seed his ambitious project to create a “school in the cloud.” Here was the a-ha point for me in his talk:
But first, a bit of history: to keep the world’s military-industrial machine running at the zenith of the British Empire, Victorians assembled an education system to mass-produce workers with identical skills. Plucked from the classroom and plugged instantly into the system, citizens were churned through an educational factory engineered for maximum productivity.
In other words, the Victorians assembled a global human computer to run the world, and they created the school system to produce more human parts for the computer. But we don’t live in that age anymore. We have real computers now. So why hasn’t our educational system changed?
Here’s another great point:
Schools still operate as if all knowledge is contained in books, and as if the salient points in books must be stored in each human brain — to be used when needed. The political and financial powers controlling schools decide what these salient points are. Schools ensure their storage and retrieval. Students are rewarded for memorization, not imagination or resourcefulness.
I constantly hear a refrain of “innovation” and “creativity” as what we need for the 21st-century world. Yet our school system is designed to stifle innovation and creativity. Today, we need schools not structured like factories, but like clouds.
Read more and watch the TED Talk: Sugata Mitra: We Need Schools… Not Factories.
I read two interesting articles by Harold Jarche this morning on the future of work. The first posits that knowledge workers are the new artisans of the network era:
The second describes the four types of jobs and speculates that two of those job types will increasingly become automated, so if you want to work, you either need to be a thinker or a builder:
As we move into a post-job economy, the difference between labour and talent will become more distinct. Producers and Improvers will continue to get automated, at the speed of Moore’s law. Those lacking enough ‘Talent’ competencies may get marginalized. I think there will be increasing pressure to become ‘Thinkers + Builders’, similar to what Cory Doctorow describes as Makers in his fictional book about the near future.
Just look what people are doing. Flying a solar-powered plane across America. Planning a permanent colony on Mars. Planting guerrilla gardens. The ability of people to imagine, invent and just make things happen never fails to amaze me. Whenever I’m feeling discouraged or cynical about my species, I must remind myself of how incredible we can be.
Gain some perspective with these gorgeous photos of nebulas: Hubble and Hershel show the Horsehead Nebula in a spectacular new light.
Speaking of reinventing things that seemed obsolete, check out how this typewriter has been modified to create art.
In this rapidly changing world, you must reinvent yourself or die. While I am thinking about how to reinvent myself, I am inspired by how others are doing it.
Take, for example, libraries, which will always be an important and relevant part of the human community, in my opinion. Here are two ways in which libraries are reinventing themselves in this age of the e-book: opening makerspaces, or space within the library where people can come together and learn how to make things; and loaning out seeds, much as they loan out books, for planting local gardens. Isn’t it interesting how, as our culture becomes increasingly digital and “in the cloud,” libraries are preserving old ways of doing things, such as making things with our hands and growing our own food?
Our library just got these cool self-checkout devices that look and act like something out of a sci-fi movie (they even glow blue!). I worried that they might put the librarians out of a job, but they said they would have more time to introduce new programs and services if they didn’t have to check out books. I’m excited to see what they will do. If you haven’t checked in on your local library lately, why not pay them a visit and see what they’re up to? Show your local library some love!
Artwork found here: Hell Yes, John Steinbeck.