Educational Time Wrap


Education abridges the time required for individual and social progress by preserving and propagating the essence of human experience. It delivers to youth the accumulated knowledge of countless past generations in an organized and abridged form, so that future generations can start off with all the capacities acquired by their predecessors.  However, today education confronts a serious dilemma. We are living in an educational time warp. There is a growing gap between contemporary human experience and what is taught in our educational system and that gap is widening rapidly with each passing year. Today humanity confronts challenges of unprecedented scope, magnitude and intensity. The incremental development of educational content and pedagogy in recent decades has not kept with the ever-accelerating pace of technological and social evolution. Education is also subject to a generational time warp resulting from the fact that many of today’s teachers were educated decades ago during very different times and based on different values and perspectives. The challenge of preparing youth for the future is exasperated by the fact that the future for which we are educating youth does not yet exist and to a large extent is unknown or unknowable. The resulting gap between the content of education and societal needs inhibits our capacity to anticipate and effectively respond to social problems. All these factors argue for a major reorientation of educational content and pedagogy from transmission of acquired knowledge based on past experience to development of the knowledge, skills and capacities of personality needed in a future we cannot clearly envision.  We may not be able to anticipate the precise nature of the future, but we can provide an education based on the understanding that it will be very different from the present. In terms of content, the emphasis needs to shift from facts regarding the actual state of affairs in the past, present and future—to the process governing the continuous evolution of the society and the deep drivers that are catalysts of that process. In terms of pedagogy, there should be a shift from emphasis on comprehension of what is taught to development of the capacity to think independently and creatively about the future. In terms of objectives, it requires a shift from promoting socialization to fostering individualization and from educating the mind to educating the whole person.