SCHOOL'S OUT PROLOGUE: [ 1 ]
LEARNING 2100 - Lewis J. Perelman GJS reprints below with permission of author.
"The wise one knows what time it is," a Zen proverb goes. Maybe the people who have been peddling the hoax of education reform just don't know what time it is. Maybe the folks who have been haranguing us to "save our schools" just don't understand that the classroom and teacher have as much place in tomorrow's learning enterprise as the horse and buggy have in modern transportation. Maybe they don't see that for the twenty-first century and beyond, learning is in and school is out. Imagine, for instance, that it's near the end of the nineteenth rather than the twentieth century. A national task force on "excellence in horses" has issued a report exclaiming that America is "at risk" because its horse breeding and training are afflicted by a "rising tide of mediocrity." Russian, Japanese, and German horses, the report warns, eat more oats, pull heavier loads, and can run faster and farther than American horses. Since everyone knows that the horse is essential to agriculture, transportation, industry, and the military, it's obvious that an all-out effort is needed to raise the quality of U.S. horseflesh if America hopes to be competitive in the 20th century world. Oh, by the way, the task force suggests, since the "horseless carriage" seems to be becoming pretty popular, all horses and their trainers should take a course in "AUTOMOTIVE LITERACY" so they won't be scared by the noise of these curious contraptions. Imagine that American's chief executive dubs himself the "equestrian president," and that he gathers all the governors together to establish a set of national goals aimed at assuring that the "New American Horse" meets "WORLD CLASS STANDARDS." Imagine, too, that top business leaders, instead of investing in Ford and Delco and Goodyear, instead of lobbying for paved roads and traffic lights and parking lots, put millions of dollars into "business-stable partnerships," "wrangler-of-the-year" awards and "BREAK-THE-MOLD" horse breeding demonstrations. As ridiculously shortsighted as this sounds, it accurately reflects how technologically blind the past decade's costly and futile education "reform" movement will appear to future historians. For a technological revolution is sweeping through the U.S. and world economies that is totally transforming the social role of learning and teaching. This learning revolution already has made the "classroom teacher" as obsolete as the blacksmith shop. It its aftermath, most of what now passes for education "reform" will appear as useful to economic security in the 90s as the Maginot Line was to military security in the 40s. School's Out - Hyperlearning, the New Technology and the end
of Education - William Morrow 1992 ISBN 0-688-11286-2 The key issues raised continue to generate useful debate.