Teaching in the knowledge age

More reading on the train – got me thinking about the Knowledge Society. There’s so much hype about this – we’ve had the “knowledge wave” and been bombarded with lists of skills we must ensure our students develop – but how helpful is this rhetoric in helping us shape our thinking about what schools should be like in the future, and, more importantly, what teaching in the knowledge society will be (should be) like? An article from Andy Hargreaves is what got me thinking about all of this – for more, click on the extended entry link below…

In his recent book, Teaching in the Knowledge Age, Andy Hargreaves asserts that the knowledge economy primarily serves the private good, and that the knowledge society encopmasses the public good. He says “our schools have to prepare young people for both of them.”
Hargreaves also claims that the term Knowledge Age is a misnomer – rather, a knowledge society is really a learning society. He argues that knowledge societies process information and knowledge in ways that maximise learning, stimulate ingenuity and invention, and develop the capacity to initiate and cope with change.
As a father of five children at different levels of the education system, these characteristics are what I’d hope might have been developed in my kids as a result of their schooling. As an educator I see a change developing in how we conceptualise curriculum, from a heavy emphasis on content (knowledge) to the development of capabilities – for instance, APEC’s skills for the 21st Century, or those detailed in the DfES skills strategy for instance.
As an educator AND a father then, I am left wondering, how can we ensure that the drivers we are responding to in our efforts to reform schooling, to change curriculum and/or to embrace ICT in our classrooms are the right ones? Are we simply fuelling the fires of the knowledge economy which, as Hargreaves asserts, inevitably benefits the privileged few – or are we striving for a utopian ideal of some public good that may, in fact, stifle the very enterprise that will take us forward.
How can we, as Hargreaves suggests, ensure that what we do in our schools will prepare our students for both (ie the knowledge economy AND the knowledge society)?
(I’m really just whetting your appetite here, as Hargreave’s article provides some really useful ideas to follow up on!)

5 thoughts on “Teaching in the knowledge age

  1. This whole notion of the social aspect of education as opposed to the personal benefit is an interesting one. The whole issue of testing is problematic if ones focus becomes the good of the group. How then do we measure the progress of the individual? Lots of good questions here and lots to think about.

  2. I can’t help but wonder if we fret too much about this ‘our education system needs to prepare our children for the knowledge age’ thing. Perhaps we forget the the knowledge age was invented by, and is still largely driven by, people who were educated in a system that most of us would think was woefully inadequate for preparing people for a knowledge age! … so go figure 😉

    Also, perhaps in attempting to prepare them so well for things to come we might actually steal from them the mother of invention that got the whole thnig rolling to start with (necessity that is).

  3. I’m just reading a book by Labaree about the whole credentialling aspect of education, and one of the significant issues he raises is the apparently inexorable evolution of the US system to a consumer-driven basis, the WIIFM scenario, the goal of individual, competitive success as opposed to goals of social efficiency or social equity. I find it interesting to reflect on the connections between that process and the collaborative, co-operative model our current world of work seems to be increasingly demanding.

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