Alvin Toffler was clear on the subject of the de-synchronisation between the business world and education, with businesses adapting under pressure from competition far quicker than the school system. We reckon we can solve the educational problem of Alvin's Third Wave - the information age - pretty easily with good internet connections and some well-conceived educational software, but what about the Fourth Wave?
Toffler talks about his conception of this next shift in human affairs in the podcast here, (from the 31st minute). He reckons the next big change, if it isn't our leap into space, will be the fusion of biology and IT. And whose to say he's wrong since it's already happening and the increasing pace of change will doubtless speed up the arrival of many more possibilities.
From the New Scientist, (sadly under sub):
"Exponential growth in computing power drives growth in other technologies. For example, the cost of sequencing a single letter of DNA, a task requiring immense amounts of processing power, has halved every 23 months since 1990. It took 15 years to sequence the genome of HIV; SARS was done in 31 days. The resolution of brain scanners is doubling every 18 months. The number of nanotechnoology patents filed in the US has doubled every two years or so since 1990. And so on. According to the NSF, nano-bio-info-cogno all have the capacity to grow exponentially for decades to come."
So what could this mean for education? There will, in all probability, be some tough questions. Would we, for example, be prepared to dose our kids up on smart drugs? In fact, this is already a question: take Modafinil, a drug developed to treat narcolepsy, which has been shown to improve problem solving by significant amounts, with apparently few serious side-effects. But this is just for starters. There are currently at least 15 molecular pathways in the brain that are under active investigation as targets for cognitive enhancement.
Of course this issue isn't limited to questions about pharmaceutical interventions. What will we make, for example, of "brain implants that allow direct mind-to-mind communication; memory chips that let you upload new knowledge directly into your brain; genetic upgrades that can be reversibly slotted into all the cells in your body..."? (New Scientist again).
Oh well. Must ponder at a later date. In the meantime the Nick Jr website is calling.