I whole heartedly agree with a move to a system of incremental learning and a focus on mastery and relevance as discussed in this article. I even feel it should filter down into the post elementary, even elementary school, so that the line between home, public and private schooling becomes blurred.
It’s interesting that the Internet is leading to the disintermediation of an ‘industry’ once more, ‘getting rid of the middlemen’ who add minimal value while sucking $ out of the revenue stream (i.e. the now obscene number of administrators in education.)
Incremental learning would focus people more on life long learning instead of the ‘boost and glide’ model we have today, I know that I am a far better student today than I was as an undergrad and know far more about what I should be learning and could use. There are many people in mid career who if the education were available and cheap could potentially make career changes and add great value to society/industry if their practical knowledge were supplemented with more analytical/academic background.
Many (guys in particular) are still too immature at 18 – 22 to know what they want to do with their lives and have a hard time sitting through “bullshit” pre requisite courses that would probably do them much more good a few years (or a few months) down the road when they understand the value. It’s not like this is the last bulwark of good English, that line fell long ago.
One downside to this in some people’s minds might be the loss of ‘life insertion support’ that university provides. This has been a accepted (not always gracefully or willingly) part of a university’s job from their origins in the middle ages.
On the upside, does it provide the opportunity to look towards a trainee and apprenticeship model of life insertion? Our current over protective society has progressively withdrawn our offspring from the real world over the past 100 some years with the most radical shifts in the early and late decades of that period. This is making it harder and harder to ‘lifestream’ them.
The child labor laws today are blanket and draconian because that’s the habit from early on when otherwise enforcement was all but impossible. Also recognize that the laws were a form of price support for adults by getting cheap labor off the market. Today monitoring is much easier and safety really is important, why not let the kids start working at earlier ages, especially if they can structure education around their work schedule, and learn life lessons much earlier and hopefully more gradually. If education becomes a life long goal, like good health, exercise, good citizenship, etc, then the first 12 years of your public life could perhaps be much more fulfilling and broad as well.
What I have sketched here is a bit of a forward into the past scenario, this would be more like it was in the past before vast bureaucracies and their one size fits all models took over from the chaotic getting along going along organization of the nineteenth and early twentieth century.
We can perhaps see what is happening as the collapse of the bureaucratic model of organization as ‘the Internet’ and reasonably capable software eliminate the need for a one size fits all models which have tried to ‘adapt’ to an un-regimented populace by the ‘cushioning’ of thousands of special assistants, ombudsmen and administrators of this that and the other.