A future without schools

Aditi Mathur and Ratnesh Mathur

In future, schools will cease to exist. This not just a tall claim, it is a beautiful one. As technology empowers individuals while diffusing all kinds of boundaries, the whole world turns into a classroom; education becomes a life-long journey and all the people of the world turn into teachers and peers.

Schooling in contemporary times is offline. You see, cut away from the world, in an artificial box (called the classroom) – we try and teach the child. Once education offline is complete, the child goes online in life – in both spheres – work and relationships.

Imagine, no schools. Then it is 24/7 online education. You learn as you live. You learn not because you will use the learning sometime in future, but because you are doing something right now. You are learning because you need it (e.g., learning to read to browse the Internet) or you are learning because it is your interest (e.g., guitar), or you are learning because of your professional work (e.g., accounting).

If all this sounds too much out-of-the-box, then realize that in a technology-enabled future we will probably have no box – only one round earth.

Let us spend some time understanding what a school does as of today and how this will change in a world without schools.

Schools provide knowledge
Knowledge is a commodity – thanks to its availability at a touch anywhere, anytime. All the research done in the past 100 years shows that we learn something when it is strongly connected to a meaningful context.

Example – consider an app that allows me, as I read (say an article on the Internet), to tap on words which I do not know (the meaning of). As I tap, the meaning pops up and the app saves the word as a ‘hot word’. When this word comes up again in my reading in any place (same article or different) – the meaning is displayed automatically. Once I have learned the word, I can tap it off.

Schools provide teaching
Unfortunately, the teaching is the same in school for all children in the class. Why can’t I learn from the teacher I prefer? This is reality already – the same topic is explained in so many different ways by different teachers that I wonder why we need only one teacher!

The authors run an open unschool called Aarohi and invite all readers to visit and see how open learning can be an amazing way to work with children. They also conduct training retreats and online training for teachers and parents. Visit www.aarohilife.org.

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