In the age of the Internet, we educate people much as we did during the Industrial Revolution. We educate them for a world that no longer exists, instilling values antithetical to those of a free, 21st century democracy. Worst of all, too many schools extinguish the very creativity and joy they ought to nourish.
In Turning Learning Right Side Up, legendary systems scientist Dr. Russell Ackoff and “in-the-trenches” education innovator Daniel Greenberg offer a radically new path forward. In the year’s most provocative conversation, they take on the very deepest questions about education: What should be its true purpose? Do classrooms make sense anymore? What should individuals contribute to their own education? Are yesterday’s distinctions between subjects--and between the arts and sciences--still meaningful? What would the ideal lifelong education look like--at K-12, in universities, in the workplace, and beyond?
Ackoff and Greenberg each have experience making radical change work--successfully. Here, they combine deep idealism with a relentless focus on the real world--and arrive at solutions that are profoundly sensible and powerfully compelling.
Why today’s educational system fails--and why superficial reforms won’t help
The questions politicians won’t ask--and the answers they don’t want to hear
How do people learn--and why do they choose to learn?
Creating schools that reflect what we know about learning
In a 21st century democracy, what values must we nurture?
...and why aren’t we nurturing them?
How can tomorrow’s “ideal schools” be operated and funded?
A plan that cuts through political gridlock and can actually work
Beyond schools: building a society of passionate lifelong learners
Learning from childhood to college to workplace through retirement
Reinventing Learning for the Next Century: How We Can, and Why We Must
An extraordinary conversation about the very deepest questions...
Today, what is education for?
Where should it take place? How? When?
What is the ideal school?
The ideal lifelong learning experience?
Who should be in charge of education?
And who pays for it all?
Over the past 150 years, virtually everything has changed...except education. Schools were designed as factories, to train factory workers. The factories are gone, but the schools haven’t changed. It’s time for us to return to first principles...or formulate new first principles...and reimagine education from the ground up.
In Turning Learning Right Side Up, two of this generation’s most provocative thinkers--and practical doers--have done just that. They draw on the latest scientific research, the most enduring human wisdom, and their unique lifelong personal experiences transforming institutions that resist change. And, along the way, they offer a powerful blueprint for a thriving society of passionate lifelong learners.
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Russell L. Ackoff is Anheuser Busch Professor Emeritus of management science at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He has authored over 20 books and 250 articles, and has conducted research for more than 300 corporations and government agencies. His most recent books include Idealized Design: Creating an Organization’s Future (Wharton School Publishing).
Daniel Greenberg is a founding member of the Sudbury Valley School in Framingham, Massachusetts. His books include Free at Last, Kingdom of Childhood, A Clearer View, The Pursuit of Happiness, Legacy of Trust, Words in Creation, A New Look at Schools, and Education in America.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Preface: Why, and How, This Book Was Written
When we first met at a conference devoted to learning in the twenty-first century, we were delighted to find ourselves deeply in sympathy with each other’s approach to education. We had each spent long years with people of all ages and in a variety of different environments—schools, universities, businesses (large and small), nonprofit organizations—espousing views that were for the most part considered radical and unrealistic. We had each endeavored to turn our dreams into reality, and we had each enjoyed enough support and success to encourage us to carry on.
But we had never crossed paths, either directly or indirectly. We soon discovered our common interests, our shared goals, and the widely divergent paths that our lives had taken. We soon became friends.
One day, we began to discuss a certain subject of mutual interest. Because we lived too far apart to meet regularly face to face, we resorted to writing each other. Because of the ease of e-mail, our exchange became, from the outset, a conversation, a rapid exchange of ideas, albeit in written rather than oral form.
The more we chatted through e-mail, the more we delved into the aspects of education that had engrossed us throughout our lives.
Eventually, this book emerged—a book we believe could be of interest to others who have struggled with the same problems.
We wanted, in the body of this book, to keep our unique voices and approaches distinct and obvious to the reader. What you will see is the actual conversation we had, rather than an amalgamation and homogenization of two separate worldviews. In each chapter, our separate views have been set off by icons to enable readers to distinguish our “voices.” However, in the final section of the book, which is about our vision of ideal education, we found that we could speak with one voice, undifferentiated.
We have derived immense pleasure out of our collaboration in this venture. We hope you, the reader, will enjoy eavesdropping on our conversation.
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