The Paradox of Education in the 21st Century
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In the 21st century an educational paradox confronts us. Knowledge is abundant, nearly free, and can be accessed without memorization. Nonetheless, the value of an education across many quality of life dimensions is increasing. Educated people are becoming increasingly better off, while at the same time, much of the valuable work traditionally performed by educated people is being off-loaded to computers. To understand these trends, we must move beyond the argument that education is simply the acquisition of certain attributes in order to succeed in the modern economy. These arguments fall short because they view education solely in terms of knowledge and skills that can be tested and ignore many dimensions that cannot be easily quantified. For example, the Common Core—the latest incarnation of the deficit model of education—is a backward facing approach to education reform that treats children as robots to be programmed. Children are autonomous human beings capable of meaningful relationships with others. Education should focus on changing our relationships. In fact, “change-focused” education is happening all around us. The power of education to radically change our relatedness to each other and to our environments is why the authentically educated enjoy such an enhanced quality of life.
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