It occurs to me that within this newsletter audience of 7,000+ EdTech company executives, the solutions for virtually every education challenge can be found.
Let me say that again.
This LearningBiz newsletter audience holds the key to the future of education and the future wellbeing of America’s youth (and our nation).
You and your fellow education executives hold the future in your hands. That’s an awesome responsibility. And although you don’t realize it, you may be among the most important people in the world right now.
Come on Charles. Have you lost your mind? The most important people in the world?
Yes. And I stand by that assessment.
A Tipping Point
The world is at a tipping point. We’ve been through the age of hunters and gatherers. The agrarian age. The industrial age. The information age.
And whatever it is that we are in now. The creation age? The Experience age? The Shift age?
Whatever we call it, one thing seems clear; the ages are coming faster. We had a good 100,000 years as hunters and gatherers. 6,000 years as planters. 300 as industrialists. 50 as information folks. And whatever age we are in now may buck the trend and mark a longstanding period in our history. And however long that may be, 50 years or 500, one thing is certain.
You are the architects. You who provide the learning tools for our children in what is the first age in which the learner is truly the focus in education, which makes this the most significant period in the history of organized education.
Imagine the possibilities.
The Times: They Are a Changin’
For the many years we have had organized education, we (educators) told the learner what to learn. We told the learner how to learn. We decided what would constitute an educated person. We decided when an individual was educated. And to a large degree, we even told them what they could do with the education we allowed them.
Whether we want to admit it or not, education has always been about control. He (or she) who controlled education controlled the world.
Remember the days when a handful of education companies controlled 95 percent of all the education content? I do, and it wasn’t that long ago. Names like Pearson, McGraw and Houghton owned the sales relationships and therefore controlled access to education. When a better, smarter company came along, the company would get purchased, and invariably the talent that created the better, smarter company would get frustrated and walk, and the innovation would get quietly crushed. Fortunately, those companies no longer control education.
Now we have competition and innovation and the Sacred 7000 (that’s you) work hard to constantly create better and better education delivery systems. And now, everything benefits the learner – as it should be.
I have been saying for years that the only thing that really matters in education is the learner. I don’t matter. The state doesn’t matter. The district doesn’t matter. And in reality, even the school doesn’t matter – unless everything the state, the district and the school are doing benefits the learner first and foremost.
The institution of education is a transitioning behemoth. For so long, it survived at the expense of the individual learner. Everything it did was designed to format the learner into a copy of every other learner. If the learner learned differently, and technically everyone does, it was up to the institution to teach conformity.
But no longer.
There is No Team in I
In education, the focus is now on the individual. And so, we should celebrate different. Different is what is going to save us. Different is what will build and strengthen our country in this age of creativity or experience or individuality or whatever we end up calling it.
Perhaps we should call it the age of the learner.
If you don’t think different is important, imagine a world without Albert Einstein or Steve Jobs. Now, imagine a world filled with Alberts and Steves. It just so happens that Einstein and Jobs were so remarkable that they slipped through. What if we searched out different? What if we celebrated it?
What if, instead of spending hundreds of $billions to try to get our children up to an arbitrary “grade level,” which incidentally we have yet to do no matter the expenditure, we spent the like sum in cognitive training and individual goal setting?
What if, the 7000 of you are highly successful in bringing the best tech and learning systems to the Alberts and Steves (and Jennys and Kristinas too)? And in doing so, you ignite the learning potential in every boy and every girl you reach?
What if, this is the start of the greatest age in our history? Welcome to the age of the learner!
About the author
Charles Sosnik is an education journalist and editor and serves as Editor in Chief at the Learning Counsel. An EP3 Education Fellow, he uses his deep roots in the education community to add context to the education narrative. Charles is a frequent writer and columnist for some of the most influential media in education, including the Learning Counsel, EdNews Daily, EdTech Digest and edCircuit. Unabashedly Southern, Charles likes to say he is an editor by trade and Southern by the Grace of God.