Conversations 8: Searching for A Model for New Education
However esoteric it may sound at this time, I have focused my work in joining the search for a model of education for this challenge, creation of able individuals for a world where globalisation, technology and a dynamic and unpredictable configuration of work, life and society all come together. There are many interesting experiments are being done all over the world, but they sit firmly outside the mainstream and mostly ignored. I wish to explore these, write about these and talk to the proponents of these experiments, because they are, in my mind, are like those early Internet pioneers, whose work will have enormous impact on what happens next.
The problem in this search is less than obvious. Most educational institutions and people who work in them are so consumed by the 'system' that it is hardly possible to have a meaningful conversation with them on how education may indeed change: They don't want to know. On the other hand, the technologists' zeal of changing the world is mostly blown up rhetoric, and so is the Education Businessmen's: They have no time for education, and would rather squeeze the dollars out of the industrial model till it falls apart. The meaningful conversations about the new education is happening inside the education sector, by the educators, but not its most visible, successful, established ones: These are happening in the margin - indeed that's where creativity always happens - and they are being carried out by educators who are upsetting the other educators. The ideas how education can change are hardly evident in the glossy research reports handed out in private equity circles, but rather in new experiments done with old ideas, coming out of the playbook of Ivan Illich, A S Neill and others: It is about setting the students free, creating a safe environment around them to explore and to learn, and for facilitating a nurturing creative space where the possibilities of life could be examined. These radical departures from the industrial model of education have come alive now that the rationale for the big school looks bunk.
In my work, I have set in motion a pivot for my original business plans: Instead of setting up a 'college' as I initially tried to do, I am trying to transform the business into a platform for nurturing disruptive ideas for education. This will no longer be about developing and delivering courses, but more of facilitating entrepreneurial ideas and projects among the students, and making them aware of this impending 'climate change' in careers. In my day job, I am giving up teaching and taking up a business role which will focus me back on India: Not that this is what I want to do long term, but this is possibly my most apparently marketable skill. However, there are some benefits of taking on such an assignment: Engaging into the world's most challenging education market and seeing the action first hand would enormously help my quest to chronicle the search for alternative models. This will also help me to find my way back to India, which I am committed to doing, and to participate in the country's education, which remains my ambition.