Friday, October 18, 2013

An Education

One of my degrees is in Educational Broadcasting, I sit on the Course Board of a leading film and television institution and carry with me a keen interest in our education system, and I despair how we educate for yesterday and not tomorrow.

For example, I believe that every child in the UK should be taught to type and to code in the same way they learn to read and count. Of course, education isn't just about life skills, but as we live in an increasingly complex world where such skills are not just necessary, but are also pre-requisites for the jobs market.

But even this isn't enough. We need a new approach that does not defer to tradition, history and dogma. The main purpose of our current education system was to turn out good Christians and clerks to run global empires.

Sad to say these days, I never, ever look at educational qualifications when employing : frankly, with nearly everyone achieving a degree, they are almost meaningless. Sending everyone to degree based higher education was a crazy idea, like most of Tony Blair's policies.

Of course, in the US, degrees are based on how much you can pay and, at their most expensive, can buy your way into the right Wall St positions. Hardly any leading entrepreneurial companies in the US were founded by graduates, let alone masters or doctorate level students.

The internet makes knowledge available like never before, and the use of video for self-education has been pioneered by the likes of the Khan Academy and venerable establishments such as Harvard, but this isn't enough. Words like discipline, structure and rigour have long been used when it comes to education, but this is all wrong. Much learning is best done in informal circumstances, as Rousseau proposed a long time ago.

The changes being made in the UK to education are tinkering around the edges by a Minister who is looking too much into the past. In the US, where there is an administrator for every teacher, the situation is even more dire for many students.

But before long they may be an irrelevance as education becomes the latest industry to be totally transformed by technology.