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The Big Answer

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Learning For Tomorrow: The Role of the Future in Education

a book by Alvin Toffler, ed.

(our site's book review)

“All education, whether so intended or not, is a preparation for the future. Unless we understand the future for which we are preparing, we may do tragic damage to those we teach," declares the back cover of the book. The book’s editor, Alvin Toffler, and eighteen others have joined together in this 1974 book to create a manifesto for the next wave of change in our educational institutions.

The book encourages many different futurist oriented contexts. For our purposes, we will note that addressing the need for good models to emulate is one of education’s most critical tasks. For the young to choose good values, they need to see various values modeled so they can make an informed choice. The book points out that the old way of imparting values by lecturing on them or pounding them into the young is ineffective. In the book, P.E.T. is held up as not only one of many “exciting developments,” but also as a model of humanistic education which attempts “to teach people the interpersonal and intrapersonal skills they will need to deal with value conflicts and decisions of the future.”

The authors also encourages teachers and parents to facilitate the development of autonomy and self-directed learning, as well as individual and community responsibility. Finally, the authors advocate that people begin explorations for ways in which the technology of the telephone, television and computer can be decentralized and put to the better service of the individual. (The PSB is an example of this.)

Kid at computer
Kid at computer

Not only does education need to include information about the future, how it relates to the past and present, and how we can make choices that will serve us best in the future (the Toffler trilogy of Future Shock, The Third Wave, and Powershift are the best books for this purpose and they should be required reading), but education should also include parent education, autonomy encouragement, values questioning, communication skills, and lifestyle skills. (For these purposes, Louise Hart’s The Winning Family and Thomas Gordon’s Parent Effectiveness Training are the best sources and should be required reading. The latter is recommended in Learning For Tomorrow, the former isn’t—it hadn’t been written yet!)

Currently, in 2014, American education system’s backwardness in science, technology, engineering, and math training is wrecking millions of young Americans chances for a decent job. So they flip burgers and bitch a lot. See Bold New World: The Essential Road Map to the 21st Century.

A burger flipping job
A burger flipping job

what burger flipping jobs create
What burger flipping jobs create

Reshaping Learning from the Ground Up: Alvin Toffler tells us what's wrong—and right—with public education is a kind of a 2013 update to the 1974 book. It's an interview, not a book. Toffler is asked about the ton of money that gets spent on education—so why isn't all that money having a better result? (Things are getting worse.) Toffler says that "It's because we're doing the same thing over and over again." We need new ways, ideas, schedules, goals, methods, etc. Tear down the bureaucracy and start over, he says. (And utilize some of the ideas and books found in the Education section of our Articles page, such as Beyond Discipline and Montessori: A Modern Approach.)

A classroom in school with a lecturing, authoritarian teacher—how NOT to educate!
A classroom in school with a lecturing, authoritarian teacher—how NOT to educate!

Teachers' normal obedience-based view of education is incorrect: 'working with' works but 'doing to' doesn't work
Teachers' normal obedience-based view of education is incorrect: 'working with' works but 'doing to' doesn't work

These are the fundamentals of the futurist's vision for education in the 21st century:

(Source: Reshaping Learning from the Ground Up, James Daly,, 2013)

Children exploring their talents
Children exploring their talents