In the spirit of Jane Jacobs and the “In My Lifetime” meme, I thought I would highlight the issue of education. In the last book she published before her death, the cautionary Dark Age Ahead, Jacobs’ points to modern western civilization’s obsession with credentialing and certification, driven by professional aspirations or systems of qualification, at the expense of education. To Jacobs, the decline of broad-minded education is reducing our civilization’s ability to adapt to change, at the same time that change is accelerating and our problems becoming increasingly complex. We would be wise to heed her warnings, as we would have been to heed her warnings about modern/rationalist urban planning in 1961.
I am interested in educational and lifelong learning alternatives that enhance our human capacity for creativity and integrative thinking, which is so sorely lacking and so crucial to our future. Economists and environmentalists must bridge intellectual and dogmatic divides in order to integrate their perspectives on the world and solve some of our most pressing challenges. In a radically globalized “world is flat” economy, any job can be outsourced, not just manufacturing jobs. Value creation increasingly will become contingent on individuals creating unique jobs and new social roles for themselves, rather than following a predesigned career pattern.
Every individual born into this world needs to develop the tools and and skills to navigate this chaos and complexity in order carve out a meaningful and highly individuated path through life. To find meaning. This calls for creativity to be made a central, not marginalized, element of our education system. This student documentary about an open/participatory/experiential/free school is inspirational. (via Boing Boing)
There are interesting parallels to how Open Space unconference practices provide a platform for creativity and inspiration, as evidenced in a community of practice we call BarCamp. And in how Open-Source software projects govern themselves. Participation versus the lecture method; leadership that can come from anywhere; self-organized and self-governing; the close connections between learning, play and the creative moment. Practices such as these are exciting innovations that are gaining increasing attention and momentum. These practices may yet undo the damage of industrial-age education methods and prepare us for a radically altered future and its rapidly accelerating rate of change.