12.30.2012

What Drives Change in Education?

We, you and I, are always rambling on about the latest thing. Don't deny it. You may be attracted to doctrine, strategy, or tactics but every one of us is a devotee of something. The object of this post, is to point out our common myopia about education. As with other examples of the effects of myopia, results can run from minor stumbles to falling off a cliff Magoo-style in pursuit of something that attracts us.

Is there a practical model hidden somewhere? Yes, it's at the end. It's about virtuous software development and you'll have to actually get the point of the post for it to be useful to you.

Many of us think the education enterprise may be "more or less independent" of outside effects. A good example is the idiocy of education policy that ignores the effects of poverty, or rather pretends it is powerless to change, but can magically waive poverty's power over children using magical passes. Thus, we may decide that a change such as increasing the number of hours spent in a discipline is an effective intervention or changing the ownership of school infrastructure could be effective. My state's leadership likes that one. I think the point of this last paragraph was that we are poking and probing a poorly understood system. Policymakers have been hoodwinked into thinking there will be results that are not unexpected.

Warning: midstream metaphor change. As with our oceans, there are changes taking place that are overwhelmingly important, but nearly invisible to us distracted by the the ripples, waves, thermoclines and tides. We are in the midst of a scientific revolution based on the democratization of information. The effect accelerates discovery. In addition to affecting the enterprise of science, the information revolution is affecting education. This much is painfully obvious and I hope you don't suppose this is about something trivial as technology in schools. It isn't.

The broad effects of the information revolution point toward globalization of the economy, global health changes, the manufacture and distribution of goods - as well as science. But its effect on education is critical to the advancement/acceleration of science itself. They are intertwined and I wil spare you yet another lousy metaphor, leaving it at that.

This much is clear. In order for science to continue to open its embrace, education must further democratize/open. Any movement toward narrowing access violates the doctrine of democratization. In science, we have settled on "Open Science" as a stated goal. Anything that isn't traveling in that direction is mistaken.

So Magoo... What drives education? The same thing that is driving change all around. Please resist "monetizing"efforts and pour resources into open education. We don't want a repeat performance of the record industry in education.

Here's the link I promised upstairs:
Ten Simple Rules for the Open Development of Scientific Software