Education as a Social Enterprise

I strongly believe that education needs a resurgence and that education is the key for developed and developing countries. However, our current system of education is not enough. As Seth Godin explains, it was designed to produce workers for factories who will follow instructions and not individuals who use their creativity and imagination.

Anika, my daughter, will be 20 years old in 2019. What would the world be then? It will definitely not be about cheaper factory work. We have enrolled her in a Waldorf school. There are other models of education but in the end we need real innovation in this area.

From Seth:

If you do a job where someone tells you exactly what to do, they will find someone cheaper than you to do it. And yet our schools are churning out kids who are stuck looking for jobs where the boss tells them exactly what to do.

Do you see the disconnect here? Every year, we churn out millions of of workers who are trained to do 1925 labor.

The bargain (take kids out of work so we can teach them to become better factory workers) has set us on a race to the bottom. Some argue we ought to become the cheaper, easier country for sourcing cheap, compliant workers who do what they’re told. We will lose that race whether we win it or not. The bottom is not a good place to be, even if you’re capable of getting there.

As we get ready for the 93rd year of universal public education, here’s the question every parent and taxpayer needs to wrestle with: Are we going to applaud, push or even permit our schools (including most of the private ones) to continue the safe but ultimately doomed strategy of churning out predictable, testable and mediocre factory-workers?

As long as we embrace (or even accept) standardized testing, fear of science, little attempt at teaching leadership and most of all, the bureaucratic imperative to turn education into a factory itself, we’re in big trouble.

The post-industrial revolution is here. Do you care enough to teach your kids to take advantage of it?

From Wikipedia on comparison of Waldorf education to mainstream:

Australian studies

A major quantitative and qualitative study of senior secondary students in the three largest Steiner schools in Australia was undertaken by Jennifer Gidley in the mid-nineties.[74][75] It investigated the Steiner-educated students’ views and visions of the future, replicating a major study with a large cross-section of mainstream and other private school students undertaken a few years prior.[76] The findings as summarised below contrasted markedly in some areas with the research from mainstream students at the time.[77]

  • Steiner-educated students were able to develop richer, more detailed images of their ‘preferred futures’ than mainstream students.
  • About three-quarters were able to envision positive changes in both the environment and human development; almost two-thirds were able to imagine positive changes in the socio-economic area;
  • They tended to focus on ‘social’ rather than ‘technological’ ways of solving problems;
  • In envisioning futures without war, their visions primarily related to improvements in human relationships and communication through dialogue and conflict resolution rather than a ‘passive peace’ image;
  • 75% had many ideas on what aspects of human development (including their own) needed to be changed to enable the fulfilment of their aspirations. These included more activism, value changes, spirituality, future care and better education;
  • In spite of identifying many of the same concerns as other students – global-scale environmental destruction, social injustice and threats of war – most of the Steiner students seemed undaunted in terms of their own will to do something to create their ‘preferred future’;
  • There were no gender differences found in the students’ preferred futures visions or in the richness and fluidity of their creative images.

An Australian study comparing the academic performance of students at university level found that students who had been at Waldorf schools significantly outperformed their peers from non-Waldorf schools in both the humanities and the sciences.[78]

In 2008, the Rudolf Steiner Schools Association of Australia funded a research project to investigate the relationships between Steiner pedagogy and related 21st century academic discourses. The report on the project is called “Turning Tides: Creating Dialogue between Rudolf Steiner and 21st Century Academic Discourses”.[79] A bibliography[80] of all the studies that were identified is also available online as is the extended project data.[81]


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