Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Economics-Driven Educational Philosophy and Vice Versa

As most of my readers know, lots of pundits in the education and educational technology space like to point to long-term economic trends and predictions as arguments for their preferred reform initiatives. So, on the surface, one might be surprised that there is precious little discussion of our recent economic upheaval on relevant education blogs -- in particular from the the 21st century learning and ed-tech scene. You would think that the unraveling of what has been a relatively stable system for the past 30 years or so would draw some comment.

The primary explanation is that education-policy centered analyses have simply ignored financial services, despite the fact that it has become the largest sector of the private economy. Finance, as an industry didn't fit the storyline -- the only storyline that fits is the "we need those experts from finance to come in and show the educators how it is done" -- so it just didn't exist. People like to talk about kids becoming artists or doctors or scientists or carpenters or community organizers but who wants to talk about them becoming insurance adjusters, stock pickers or hedge fund managers? I'm rather fond of a report that came out a few years ago called "Education for What? The New Office Economy" for telling the unsexy truth about how our economy actually works and what a reliable path to upward economic mobility looks like, if that's what you're actually interested in.

Arguments about education policy based on economic theories and projections are basically a hoax. People don't change their educational philosophy to match economics. They just pick economic ideas that buttress what they already believe about education. If you don't believe me, just keep an eye out for people changing their ideas about education in response to what will probably be pretty drastic changes in our economic outlook and let me know if you see anyone doing anything other than trying to cope with budget cuts.

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