Education in the 21st Century
published in July showed that people have become less likely
to remember things that they know are only a click away on the Internet.
In other words, our selective memory has expanded to exclude things
easily found via a web search. I interpret this revelation as meaning
that people are selectively remembering the things that matter most
to them in their everyday lives. All else are easily accessible,
so why waste brain matter remembering them? Small example, I remember
far fewer phone numbers than I used to thanks to my cloud-based
contact list. I'll get back to why I started with an explanation
of this study.
Learn in School
When I venture
into the land of memories and journey back into my school days,
I can't help but wonder about what I've retained from all the things
that K-12 public school taught me. I would say that 90% of what
I learned was practically useless (not to mention how much of it
was wrong). Reading, writing, and arithmetic have been the most
useful, but throughout the course of my life in K-12, most of what
I learned I've forgotten, and everything else is just a Google search
away. Those things that have been the most useful I've taught myself.
I test software for a living, but all of my computer experience
was self-taught. I have a passion for Mormonism, economics, and
libertarianism. All self-taught.
everything can be found on the Internet. It has been the one indispensable
tool in my self-education. It helped me find answers to my endless
list of questions about Mormonism. It was through the Internet that
I discovered economics and the Austrian School. It's through the
Internet that I have engaged in a countless number of debates and
discussions with a countless number of people, many of which I have
never met in person, yet I consider them my friends. There has been
a major paradigm shift in the world thanks to the Internet.
/ University of The People
Over the last
decade, colleges and universities have begun offering their programs
over the Internet. Virtual classrooms have been replacing the traditional
classroom. Unfortunately, thanks to government
intervention in education, tuition is still astronomically high,
but I believe that the Internet is starting to force a major change.
Enter Khan Academy and
the University of the People.
Khan Academy is a collection of over 2400 free instructional videos
on subjects ranging from Algebra
to Finance to
Biology, and their
database is growing.
The University of the People is a virtual college devoted to tuition-free
higher education. They currently offer Bachelor programs in Business
Administration and Computer
What both institutions
demonstrate is just how feasible it is to create and receive a quality
education over the Internet. I predict that both institutions are
just the beginning of yet another paradigm shift, this time in higher
education. No longer would a professor need to spend countless hours
lecturing students. He could simply record his lectures (or use
others'), assign them as homework, and use classroom time, either
traditional or virtual, for discussion. In other words, both teaching
and learning are becoming more efficient.
My wife and
I have been studying various homeschooling philosophies over the
last year, and have become increasingly intrigued with "unschooling".
Unschooling is the belief that kids learn best when their engaged
in what interests them most. Not classrooms, curriculum, lessons,
or lectures. When kids are free to explore the world around them,
with the parent serving as a facilitator, they learn better than
when they're forced to learn what they may not even be interested
in. We believe that unschooling our kids is a better way to achieve
the goals we have for them, ie. we want them to understand that
they are free to pursue their own interests, that they are in control
of their own lives, and that no matter what course they choose in
life, we love them unconditionally. Their life is in their own hands,
with all the liberty and responsibility that this entails. (On kids
and socialization, see here.)
in The 21st Century
me back to where I started. Apparently, we remember what we need
to, and forget what can easily be found on the Internet. So why
are we sending our kids to school and forcing them to learn things
they don't need, and quite possibly what they don't care to learn?
I believe that unschooling, from birth until death, is the education
model of the 21st century and beyond. The Internet has grown to
unthinkable heights. People no longer need traditional schools,
public or private, to teach them someone's version of History, or
Social Studies, Geography, and any other practically useless-in-our-everyday-lives
subject. If we need to know something, we can find it in a matter
of minutes. Let's instead help our children discover their talents
and passions, and to develop them in a non-compulsory, safe environment.
It's a new
day. Times have indeed changed. Don't be left behind, and don't
be left with a bad education and the unnecessary stress that K-12
education creates for both parent and child. Enter the 21st Century,
the century of unschooling and free education. My wife and I are
proud to say that we're unschoolers. We've borrowed some insight
from another education model, TJEd,
on the phases of learning,
and will facilitate our kids interests, and mentor them along the
way. It's an exciting day for all of us!
Collins [send him mail]
blogs at skylerjcollins.com.
© 2011 Skyler Collins