Today’s schools and colleges are broken and cannot be fixed, say educators William A. Draves and Julie Coates, authors of the new book The Pedagogy of the 21st Century.
The factory model, they say, is illustrated by tardy bells, seating in rows, grading based on the curve, time as the standard measure for learning, grading based on behavior, and more.
“Even a high school today looks just a factory,” they claim.
They say that schools in the last century were designed to prepare students to go into the factory, the most important work sector of the industrial economy.
“Just as education was completely transformed 100 years between 1900 and 1920 as we moved from the Agrarian Age into the Industrial Age, so too is education being completely transformed now as we move from the Industrial Age into the Internet Age,” they maintain.
Just as the one-room school house was not able to provide the kind and quality of education necessary in the Industrial Age, so too is the factory model obsolete and no longer relevant in the 21st century.
“The primary reason the factory model of education is dysfunctional and collapsing is that there are no more jobs in the factory,” notes William Draves. He says factory employment has declined from 35% of the population to just 10% today.
“Today’s students are preparing for a work life using their brains, not their brawn, and the Internet,” adds Julie Coates. “The future of jobs is with professional positions, positions that pay a middle class salary and can support a family,” she says. Labor economists say there will be a shortage of skill professional workers of some 14 million people by 2017, she notes.
SAME NOT EQUAL
A primary feature of the factory model school and college is to treat every student the same, even though we all know that each student is different, Draves and Coates say. “We do that because in the factory everyone has to behave the same,” they say. “But we know that each student is different, each one of us learns different subjects at different rates of speed and competency, and that treating each student the ‘same’ is not treating each student ‘equally.’
Instead, we need and will have an education system that treats each student differently. The education model of the 21st century will personalize and customize learning to the needs of each student, they predict.
COLLEGE DEGREE NEW MISSION
Even the mission of education changes, they say. A high school degree is no longer enough to prepare a person for the knowledge society. “We need 50% of our children to have a four year college degree, thus enabling them to become knowledge workers,” says Coates.
Thus the new mission of both K-12 schools and higher education is to produce more four year college graduates, they say.
Both Coates and Draves predict that the new model for education will evolve and that by the end of this decade society educators will know most of the key elements, teaching strategies, and components of the new system.
In The Pedagogy of the 21st Century, they provide research, data and the rationale for what a new system will look like.
Coates and Draves