While the world is being overrun with AI and a creeping technocracy, jobs, lives, and our souls seem to be on the line. What of schools and the industry that serves them?

Well, they are ground zero. Everyone wants a piece of their action, telling them what to do and how to do it and selling them things and visions of the future and overloading them with work. Teachers will tell you that in graphic expletives. I dare you to ask.

In response to the overwhelm, schools have been filtering everything coming in. Also censoring. Also taking away student mobile phones. Also constraining communication lines in and out and building ever more rigid rules about who can and what can be communicated. Wise? Well, maybe not, not entirely. There is a super significance to communication that transcends our pettiness about overfull inboxes.

You see, open and free communication between people is what solves problems, drives the economy, and is the foundation of human civilization.

I am not advocating for criminals and jokers who send willful irrelevancies, viruses, and advocate for foreign princes who need your money with bulk email scams. Those folks got your email address from big social media or your own bulk email hub. All those things happen to anyone who has held a post with the same email address for longer than a few months, but with a bit of conscientiousness, avoidable. Don’t click on weird links if an easy web search or just common sense tells you it’s not a reputable organization or even a real person.

The real loss is threefold. First, at the industry level, one wrong move and a whole organization can find itself having all its regular staff email going to spam. This even happens to schools who are trying to bulk announce a snow-day, send a newsletter, or alert parents to summer options. It happens simply, with maybe one time one staff member who used an email already sent and then reopened it from their sent folder and forwarded it to another person, opened the same one again and forwarded that, and did so on repeat at least 10 times. That is somehow a no-no, and you must cut and paste into a new original email. One time marking a faithful organization as spam instead of politely going to the “unsubscribe” at the bottom can cause huge detrimental effects for that organization, or just write back and say you’re not interested. It’s rude not to and hurts commerce. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t want the emails – other people do and you're marking it spam hurts when it's not true spam. Have a care. Have some manners like people used to have with communications lines.

Volumous and rapid-fire communication is the lifeblood of all commerce, it drives the prosperity of the whole economy. As more and more organizations who are valuable get “caught in spam,” there is a cascading effect happening nationally. Without email, many organizations cannot reach the volumes they need to. Some will turn to mass texting, another nuisance, but very effective. Both bulk email and mass texting have certain corporations who are “inviolate” in terms of their practices, like Google and T-Mobile and Amazon. Millions of others, the bulk of the economy, are smaller businesses and do not. Same with schools, districts, any governmental organization can have this happen to them.

Second, the propensity of the current business and governance climate is to make it extremely hard to talk to a real person, or to understand the roles and responsibilities of departments to reach the exactly right person. It didn’t used to be this way. There were main line receptionists to transfer callers who knew the organizational chart and could recommend department receptionists as a starting point or even the right person. They would dutifully give you the direct dial number, extension, mobile phone and email. Now none of this occurs regularly.

In many instances, even when Learning Counsel is calling to do a story on a company, we get the automated “press 1 for sales, press 2 for finance, press 3 for account service, and so forth” in an infinite loop when none of those are what is needed. If there is ever a receptionist, that person knows nothing and says if we knew the name of the person, then they might be found. Otherwise, no dice. If there were a person known, only an email is given because the great majority of staff work from home and that avenue of connection is now mostly personal mobile phone numbers so companies do not give them out.

If you do happen to have a phone number, getting a call back is now almost impossible. The young folks call it “ghosting.” You’re ghosted, you never get a response. The result of all this is lower communication, less opportunities – like from the media. This is no small thing and has happened thousands of times.

On a national scale the loss in productive communication is enormous. Schools attempting to work with curriculum publishers, any tech company, or any services provider knows this all too well. It is more work to work now than it used to be – all because of a social trend to curtail lines of communication rather than leaders insisting on open and easily accessible lines and organizational charts.

Third, the Alpha Generation, born 2010 to the end of 2024, are well documented as incommunicado verbally. They don’t use their mobile phones as phones all that much. They text in a foreshortened and bastardized language and are far less literate than prior generations. The text culture is expediency, pithiness. They shoot short videos of themselves and events in life and send them to each other. It doesn’t seem like this is an evolution of communication modes, but more like a reversion to cave drawings only with digitally moving pictures. No alphabet or writing needed. They also barely know email. Their origination of long-form verbal dialog is low, as is their written skill. The low literacy scores nationwide are indubitably a result of these culture precursors – lack of talking.

Ah, so we have come full circle to where the finger-pointers will look if they ever discover that our inadequate volume of communication itself is lowering our standard of living.

They will look at our education system, which is animate. Not inanimate like a mobile phone. People blame people. It’s harder to blame the effects of inanimate things on people, or even to see the phenomenal alteration of communications structure being the cause of many societal ills. Also, many truly great capacities if we can adapt us behaviorally.

It’s time to talk and encourage talking. All of us, everybody. If we want a bright future, we will also get this generation talking, and talking. The sheer volume of energy that can be unleashed just with that in every corner of our country could well fuel an economic surge. Also, let’s get our friends out of spam jail, stop evaluating-before-the-fact-of-consequences by censoring everything, and teach conscientiousness. Note that pre-evaluation with bias has the same effect as spanking a child before they did anything to deserve it, or at least anything directly observed or provable. It creates enormous resentment and the desire to get even. Not a good look.

Let’s talk. A lot more. It’s what humans do. We’re human. We need to be good at it because AI is here.