Hardly an original observation I am about to make, yet it has slapped me afresh, so here we go!
Understanding the schooling paradigm-shift requires one to be a culture-watcher. It is the seismic changes in society which make the schooling system appear so anachronistic and functionally irrelevant.
One such change: the rise in technologies facilitating collective action and intelligence.
The original technology that facilitated collective action and intelligence was money. Money sped up collective intelligence in a seismic fashion.
Since I'm on clichés today let's mention Wikipedia. It runs itself. Hierarchies are artefacts that bubble-up from grassroots communities. Everyone chips in.
Money facilitated the 'division of labour'. I have an iPhone. No single person or business knows how an iPhone is made. Apple coordinated the design, but I doubt they know how to mine the materials or manufacture the plastics or silicon inside, and it's the army of poor at Foxconn that assembled it, in a factory assembled by other industries and experts. Every product or process in the modern world bubbles up out of a myriad of collective intelligences, forming meta-collectives, and meta-meta-collectives.
I'm getting to Star Wars.
The mass media until the end of the 20th century consisted chiefly of one-to-many technologies. The printing press, radio, television, yadayadayada.
The web has allowed the proliferation of many-to-many technologies. That is, collective intelligences.
Endless funky web experiments have illustrated the phenomena. Check this fascinating investigation into Twitter rumours during the London riots and how the collective intelligence corrected misinformation.
I'm getting to Star Wars, ok?
Oh alright I'll cut to the chase.
The Star Wars Uncut project allowed anyone in the world to claim a 15 second excerpt from the Star Wars IV film and create their own version. The entire film has been sown back together again from these micro-remakes.
The result is bizarrely watchable and hilarious. Every 15 second cut has something unique and witty to bring to the party. Like so much of modern global-village life, it's a pot-luck lunch where everyone brings their best to the table. Contributing artists move between slapstick, irony, gravitas, intertextual references, and the absurd, so the resulting text has a density that is common and expected in the media nowadays.
And it just made me think: our young people are growing up in an age where participation in collective intelligences is as natural as breathing. It wasn't so when I was a lad, but it is now.
Consider the 'technologies of schooling': classrooms, authority figures, timetables, reporting, yadayadayada. These are redundant technologies. They are the equivalent of a horse-and-cart, or a punch-card reader.
Schooling as we know it is an anachronistic technology.
It is only a matter of time before our collective intelligence puts in the bin in favour of a new process - a new sociological institution - that relies on emergent cooperation rather than hierarchical order.
And now for the show!