On a recent series of talks, I found myself saying, "the future of education will be..." or "the future of education has to be..." or "will be..." a lot. too much. with complete certainty and confidence. It surprised me that i would be so bold. I'm not one to think about the future. which is akin to my role as chief innovation officer in the sense that i don't spend any time thinking about innovation, i actually spend most of my time avoiding mediocrity. The future of education will be found in the past. Not in a nostalgic way. I think nostalgia is a disease, but we'll save that for another post. When I say, "the future is in the past" I echo countless artists, philosophers, thinkers. Bob Marley wrote, "if you don't know your past, you don't know your future." But this isn't about history. Steve Jobs, "You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards." Confucius, "Study the past and divine the future." Abraham Lincoln, "The assertion "that all men are created equal," was of no practical use in effecting our separation from Great Britain, and it was placed in the Declaration, not for that, but for future use." Especially "school" history. This idea is about essentiallizing, getting to the essence of things, both information and action. What I want us to do after I say this is to think about learning in its most organic way. not as it's manipulated through schools and training programs, not with some grand political agenda, just learning as it happens in the human brain, in relation to others and to the environment in which it's happening.
the best example is the mother and child, cooking together. the mother is making something for dinner. the child is making something to empower the princess and defeat the dragon. this is essential learning. not essential as in critical, but in the core of learning, this is learning boiled down to its most basic components.
it starts with relationship. and relationship is rooted in trust. mother says, i have to make something for dinner, child says, i have to make something for the princess. mother says how exciting let me get you a chair. and arranges the child right in the middle of the action, the learning. then the entire environment opens up. and magic can happen.
think about it, all these random ingredients are lined up, tools are arranged, then the precise distribution of those ingredients and implenetation of tools and poof, abracadabra - something entirely new appears. think about the best meal you ever had. - magic, right. how did they get this fish to taste so good, how can the simple chocolate chip cookie chemically and socially alter your mood.? magic. well we know it's not magic, in any harry potter sense, but i'll argue it's not the cookie or the pot roast that's magical in our story, its the memory, the moment. the environment that empowers learning.
the tools, the mechanics, the math, the chemistry, the politics, the policy, the economics of making dinner and a potion for the princess are all the example of essentializing learning.
that's the past. that's learning. magic.