8 Years to Get Educated

Think about this – if you could only afford to pay for 8 years of education –

  1. what would you teach so the person could be equipped to teach themselves anything they needed to learn in the future and
  2. what would you study (if you’re the student) 

I’ve been asking myself this question because in much of the developing world, the definition of an educated workforce is one that has attained an 8th grade education. Yet, here in the United States, hardly anyone would think that a person was educated with only 8 years of school. How might one re-imagine an 8 year time frame given an eager young mind, the internet, search technologies, television – cable, digital and content on demand, radio, blogs, iphone apps, podcasts, books, YouTube, Montesorri, oral tradition and two thousand years of history on how knowledge is passed on?

How would you redesign curriculum if you only had 8 years to work with?  What learning would you outsource to technology? Would you outsource music practice to software?  What learning would you keep with a teacher?  (Or rather, human to human interaction?)  Would you push multiplication tables to computer based games done at home and spend classroom time focused on critical thinking?  Would you shift toward a more Socratic approach in middle school?

Literature for thought: The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson. In this novel, the young female protaganist, Nell, holds the key to interactive intelligence and learning through an amazing technology enabled book.