The Necessity of An Education Revolution
The bedrock of any society is education. Education can take many forms, from lessons passed down from generation to generation, to very systematic and bureaucratic formal institutions. Regardless, education is integral for societies to function — but what is even more integral, is that the form education takes is fit to the needs of that society.
We are now living in an era of unprecedented change, disruption, and innovation. We are living in a world that has been metaphorically flipped on its axis in a very short period of time. Simply by looking at the enormous population growth that has occurred, and considering that most of this has been in developing regions, we are living on a completely different planet than 50 years ago. In a similar vein, technological development has increased at an unprecedented rate, CO2 emissions have increased, and with it so has average global temperature. Radical upward trends are also occurring specifically relevant to education, with many more people passing through higher education, and in many places, especially the US, student loan debt has become an epidemic. At the same time, our education system has not changed nearly as drastically, leaving us in an education crisis. Subject to environmental change, a biological ecosystem would try to adapt. Our educational ecosystems, on the other hand, are failing to do so. This failure not only affects the individuals directly involved in the system, staff and students alike, and the institutions themselves, but also there are consequences on a larger societal and global level. We are facing enormous global challenges, which are not yet equipped to tackle. Using antiquated models means that we are not preparing students to flourish in our rapidly changing world, and, our educational systems are not built to support the current state of world. It is integral that we keep in mind that “…the time for education is the present, not the future and not the past” (Oelkers, 2002: 682).
In our new global society it is absolutely imperative that we take a new look at education, and what the responsibility and role education needs to play in our society and world today. In a globalised world, I argue that for the first time in history, the future of all lives on earth and that of the planet itself, are tied together. In developing and forging a path in a global society, we must develop an education system to support this entirely new world. Just as, “…early Muslim scholars writing on education were well aware of the vital importance that accessible and efficient education holds for societies developing as dynamically as those of Islamic civilizations were from the ninth to the twelfth centuries” (Günther, 2006: 385) we must view education as vitally important for our dynamically changing global society. I would like to clarify that in most of my writing, although some of the concepts discussed will apply broadly for education, I am focusing directly on universities, and university-equivalent models of higher education (U.S. Colleges, etc.).
I argue that in order to meet the needs of the 21st century, institutions of higher learning must focus on using innovation and connectivity to meet the following two objectives —
1. On a societal/global level educate people to apply thinking innovatively regarding all disciplines in order to keep up with rapid global changes, and to push human progress forward.
2. On an individual level educate people to have the ability to know who they are and put their specified skills and knowledge of what they do into a broader context, in order to think innovatively in their work and their lives.
Günther, S. 2006. ‘Be Masters in That You Teach and Continue to Learn: Medieval Muslim Thinkers on Education Theory’. Comparative Education Review, vol. 50, no. 3, pp. 367–388.
Oelkers, J. 2002. ‘Rousseau and the image of ‘modern education’. Journal of Curriculum Studies, vol. 34, no. 6, pp. 679–698.