Thursday, July 20, 2017

South Africa, Tech, and the Future of Education

I am in South Africa with a vibrant group of educators. It is my second visit to South Africa. We are on the dawn of our second day in Cape Town.

The visit to one of the leading countries in modern Africa poses real educational questions and concerns. From my previous visit it is fairly clear that there is great concern with "catching up". My sense is that this game of catch up will never succeed. Nor should it. I think that the potential of the new economies and the innovator nations is in finding alternatives. In redefining.

My mind keeps coming back to Mitra's presentation in his 2013 TED Award presentation. He claimed that our current education system was designed to feed the human computer system in the Age of Empire. This argument rings true, it combines many claims by others about the industrial nature of modern education with a much more practical aspect of it.  But the most powerful statement is the one I think can guide schools in a nation like South Africa just like it can in a nation like the US. Education is NOT broken. It is obsolete!

If it is so, then South Africa (or any developing country) is on equal footing with any developing nation. Technology and new ideas can serve the foundation to a whole new approach that is alternative to the Imperial Machine. Somewhat appropriate if it grows in post colonial countries. I doubt this happens until someone decides that chasing 19th and 20th century goals.

It is akin to the revolutionary effect of cell phones in developing countries- hurdling over multiple development phases and landing in the present. I do not agree with all of Mitra's points (it is hinted at in this article) but he presents a compelling rationale for change.

I have embedded Mitra's presentation below.

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