Prof. Pagano is Associate Professor of Experimental Physics at University of Salerno, Italy. His considerations here provide the backdrop for verbalizing the core conflict in which educational institutions, schools and universities are immersed. We will analyze that core conflict in our next post.
We tend to see recursive patterns in all aspects of life. However, the science of complexity has taught us that when the system is complex enough, as our reality tragically is, its evolution in time will always be unpredictable. There is no such thing as a historic cycle or an economic cycle. Each time round it is a new story. That story might have a number of similarities with past events, but nothing ensures that it will repeat itself again. It is a human tendency to see patterns in all events; it is part of our neurophysiological makeup.
Our lives are immersed in cyclic events: day following night, the sequence of the seasons, the life cycle from birth, childhood, adulthood, old age and death. Similarly, we treat each new generation as a new cycle that has to go through the same sequence of events, including the education system.
However, the world evolves and changes and every day is different from the previous one.
About thirty years ago, when I was at school, the main way to access knowledge was through the reading of books. The other sources of information, including radio, TV and oral communication, were somewhat less organized and effective. One could safely say that the whole body of human knowledge and culture was written in books. Researching information in the correct book was considered a special ability and that information often took a long time to find.
Students today have access to a wealth of information literally at their fingertips through the Internet. They can communicate in multiple ways and very easily with virtually millions of people. Moreover, most of the information they receive is provided in a visual, graphical way, instead of being written in lines. This shift in access to information has a profound effect on the way young people relate to each other and to the world around them. One drawback of the ease with which they gain information and communicate is that it can lower their ability to cope with difficulties, and we may mistakenly interpret this as a lack of intelligence and drive.
Undoubtedly, the great technological revolution that has transformed our lives with the massive introduction of electronic devices and systems has brought us many advantages. The cost of this is that the majority have no hope of understanding how these magic tools are able to achieve their remarkable performance. For the youngest members of our society who were born and grew up in a world filled with advanced technology, there is no question of trying to understand how these devices work; they just make use of them.
We may consider as a consequence of this technological progress the development of a faith in technology, and a looser grip on the handle of our future.
The challenge is to keep up with the pace of innovation that so enriches our lives, while at the same time being able to evolve our education system in order to be aligned with the changes in our reality.
Educating for Complexity: How Do We Transform Schools into Centres of Innovation?
Innovation and Education: The School of Evolution
Looking at the Core Conflict in Education and Innovation Today (Pt. 3)