The following is an excerpt from Tom Whitby’s post, Are we preparing students for life?
Content in past decades was slow to change. Even as advances were made in science, history, geography, and literature, the world itself moved at a slower pace, so time and change were less critical. We had a print media that was driven by time sensitive events, but the time was stretched out by print deadlines. Textbooks were relevant for longer periods of time. Today, whole countries that were in existence a short while back have changed names boundaries, populations, and cultures seemingly overnight. Our outdated textbooks that we continue to use cannot hope to keep up with the rapid change of the world today. Yet, we still claim to be preparing kids for life.
In reading the post above, I was reminded of this piece from Carl Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (pg. 300 – 301):
When the training is unchanged for immense periods of time, traditions are passed on intact to the next generation. But when what needs to be learned changes quickly, especially in the course of a single generation, it becomes much harder to know what to teach and how to teach it. Then, students complain about relevance; respect for their elders diminishes. Teachers despair at how education standards have deteriorated, and how lackadaisical students have become. In a world in transition, students and teachers both need to teach themselves one essential skill – learning how to learn.
The only way to prepare students for life is to prepare them to deal with change because the world is always changing – only now the rate of change is accelerating.