Today is day #2 of our series on thought leaders in education. We began yesterday with Thomas Kuhn and his theory on how science moves from one paradigm to another. In a nutshell, he says, “When the transition is complete, the profession will have changed its view of the field, its methods, and its goals.”
If we accept that we are in the midst of a paradigm shift in education, what are we shifting from and what are we moving toward? Who is, in Kuhn’s terms “particularly likely to see that those (traditional) rules no longer define a playable game and can conceive of another set that can replace them?”
Again we look to a thought leader outside of the discipline of education: Peter Senge, Director of the Center for Organizational Learning at the MIT Sloan School of Management.
In his book The Necessary Revolution, Senge and co-authors argue that our place in the course of human history leaves us no choice but to think and act differently. He cites diminishing natural resources and growing waste in addition to social stresses such as anxiety and overwork as well as the growing gap between the rich and the poor to illustrate the dangerous side effects of the industrial system.
OLD WAYS OF THINKING:
- Energy is infinite and cheap.
- There will always be enough room to dispose of all our waste.
- Humans are the primary species on earth; others are less important and many are irrelevant.
- Productivity and standardization are keys to economic progress.
- Economic growth and rising GDP are the best ways to “lift all boats” and reduce social inequities. (page 39)
NEW WAYS OF THINKING:
- Use renewable energy
- Recycle everything
- Plan for future generations
- Value the earth’s services
- Embrace variety; build community
- In the global village, there is only one boat, and a hole sinks us all (page 40)
He says: “We need to ask, ‘What would a way of thinking, a way of living, and ultimately an economic system look like that worked based on the principles of the larger natural world?'”
This is what sets Education to Save the World apart from almost all other “21st Century” education advocates.
Most thought leaders place the need for change in the context of personal or national competition. We like how Senge looks beyond economics to ask what else is going on in our time period.
Question to consider:
What could education look like if the goal shifted from economic competitive advantage to working together to create a sustainable future?