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Toffler On The Curriculum Of The Future

November 4, 2012

Excerpted from Future Shock, by Alvin Toffler:

Anyone who thinks the present curriculum makes sense is invited to explain to an intelligent fourteen-year-old why algebra or French or any other subject is essential for him. Adult answers are almost always evasive. The reason is simple: the present curriculum is a mindless holdover from the past.

Why, for example, must teaching be organized around such fixed disciplines as English, economics, mathematics, or biology? Why not around stages of the human life cycle: a course on birth, childhood, adolescence, marriage, career, retirement, death. Or around contemporary social problems? Or around significant technologies of the past and future? Or around countless other imaginable alternatives?

The present curriculum and its division into airtight compartments is not based on any well thought out conception of contemporary human needs. Still less is it based on any grasp of the future, any understanding of what skills Johnny will require to live in the hurricane’s eye of change. It is based on inertia – and a bloody clash of academic guilds, each bent on aggrandizing its budget, pay scales, and status.

This obsolete curriculum, furthermore, imposes standardization on the elementary and secondary schools. Youngsters are given little choice in determining what they wish to learn. Variations from school to school are minimal. The curriculum is nailed into place by the rigid entrance requirements of the colleges, which, in turn, reflect the vocational and social requirements of a vanishing society.

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From → Books, Education, Excerpts

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