Schools of the Future, from The Utopia Series

The following excerpt is from “Schools of the Future” , an article from a project called The Utopia Series. It was originally published at the Philosopher’s Mail website, a news outlet of The School of Life, London. (via Isegoria)

The aim of education is to prepare students for adult life. So the role of schools should be thought through only after we have identified the challenges of adult life. If school is essentially conceived as a training, we need to explain what it is training for. What are the relevant difficulties and challenges that we need to be equipped to deal with?

… it is clear that schools fail all but a tiny portion of their students. This is a generic problem, as much in evidence in posh, highly academic private schools as in more deprived, government-run ones.

… To get more ambitious about education doesn’t necessarily mean spending more money, building more schools, employing more teachers, or making exams more difficult. Rather, it should chiefly mean focusing more clearly on the real purpose of education.

… we currently study maths when, in truth, we should really (from a very young age) study the one thing that maths is used for by 99% of the population: money.

In the Utopia, there would be extensive classes on the workings of Capitalism. One would study how profit occurs, why some areas of activity are much more profitable than others and how economic opportunities arise.

students would learn how to deal with the world of work.

They would learn what the options really are – and the relationship between early choices and subsequent destinies (the purpose would be to reduce the chances of anyone in the future waking up aged 48 in despair, wondering what they had done with their life). They would learn what a business idea really is. They would discuss productive and less productive sectors of the economy. They would understand the role of cash flow, HR, leadership, marketing and competition. They would learn how to deal with colleagues, burnout, envy, office politics, interviews and sackings. They would spend three hours a week exploring and discussing what they might do with their future.

All this would begin from the age of 8 – rather than being left as a set of arcane secrets available only to an elite who can embark on a ruinously expensive MBA aged 27.

… It would not only be children who went to school. Adults in general would see themselves as in need of education. One would never be done with school. One would stay an active alumni, learning throughout life.

… We’re so hung up on the challenges of running a massive education system, we’re failing to pinpoint the real source of our problems. It isn’t primarily about money, salaries, discipline… Troubles here are only a consequence of a more basic difficulty that precedes them all, namely, right now, with no one quite meaning for this to happen, but with untold consequences and costs, we’ve got the wrong curriculum. __Schools of the Future

It is easy to see some parallels between this “Utopian” view of future schools, and the Al Fin Dangerous Child approach. Training children in practical economics at an early age is very important, but so is teaching practical hands-on skills — and taking advantage of critical periods of development to expand potential skills in maths, music, language, and dynamic movement.

It is the job of curriculum designers at the Al Fin Dangerous Child Institute and other similar advanced educational design groups, to sift through the large number of theoretical and practical approaches to advanced childhood education. Good ideas will be tested, modified, and integrated into a larger curricular system which will be versatile and adaptable enough to fit a wide range of personalities and aptitudes.

Here at Al Fin, we want children to become competent, creative, curious, independent, self-supporting, and generally community oriented — other than the occasional roving independent operator, and those who opt for government or military service.

Static utopias are silly ideas, leading to unfortunate unintended consequences. But concepts such as The Next Level — which involve an ongoing dynamic balancing and evolution — are theoretically workable. It all hinges on the quality and capabilities of the human substrate involved.

More from Isegoria on the need to cultivate initiative and independence from an early age:

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