I’m reading a series of essays, published in 1973 and edited by Douglas Myers, called The Failure of Educational Reform in Canada. Katz, in his essay, contends that the basic structure of modern education was fixed by about 1880 and it has not been altered, fundamentally, since then. It was based on the model created by Horace Mann for educating the Prussian army.
He poses two questions, “Did anyone propose alternatives to the structure that emerged?” and “Why has the structure remained so impermeable to reform?
These questions are just as relevant today as they were 38 years ago. Do we seriously attempt to change the model of education that is not serving the needs of many in a society that has changed drastically since 1973? We move the furniture around inside the box but that the box itself has not been redesigned.
Katz suggests three reasons why fundamental change doesn’t take place. The structure serves powerful entrenched interests; those in control have careers to protect; and it serves the needs of the affluent groups in society very well so they see no point in changing it.
Traditions are not very receptive to change. But the report that the world population has reached 7 billion, so many people that if they joined hands to form a line it would stretch to the moon and back 14 times (according to scientist Bob McDonald), should be enough to provoke us to look at the teach-test model which is becoming more firmly entrenched rather than being open to investigation.
I look forward to your comments and possible solutions to these two questions.