During a recent evening of channel surfing, I stumbled across a great show on the History Channel dealing with the development of the typewriter. I knew some about the history of the typewriter, including the fact that they key placement was designed to slow the typist down so that they machine could keep up and that key jams would be lessened.
The IBM Selectric was a revolution. No more jammed keys! Instead, IBM thought of a new way to make the typewriter work better -- put the letters on a ball that whirled around, striking the page as directed by the typist's keystrokes. Not only that, but the balls could be interchanged, allowing for different fonts, etc. No doubt about it, the Selectric represented a tremendous reform in typing, allowing people to produce better documents, faster and with fewer headaches.
Here's where business is different from school. If you check info on the Selectric now, you'll find that the last innovations on the Selectric were in the early 80s. A twenty year run that was tremendous for the company and the consumer. The end came because consumers didn't want better typewriters, they wanted to produce better and better documents and publicatons! While the typewriter was the way to do that for many decades, almost no one uses a typewriter now; we use our computers!
Education is stuck in a "typewriter" mentality. The government keeps trying to improve on the "typewriter" of education -- which is the school model. We don't want/need better schools -- we want and desperately need better and better ways to help learners learn! Schools, like typewriters, used to be the best means to the end. No more.
My resolution in 2009 is to help lead the transition away from the IBM Selectric mentality of improving schools, to the revolutionary possibilities that are available with a PC, online learning and a connectivist mentality!
Happy New Year.