Doug Stein on Hope and Fear

Doug Stein of Memespark responded in comments to my last post and as usual his insights add a lot to the conversation and make the connection to education publishing more relevant and real. For that reason I’ve bumped this comment to its own post.

let-the-stress-begin.jpgBy Doug Stein
The trickiest thing about being part of the solution when publishing instructional materials is that there are Balkanized sets of content standards which are disconnected from both job skills and survival skills. When you need to “surf to survive” (both rapid response to workplace change and rapid assimilation and integration of knowledge) it’s pretty unsettling that the instructional materials market has to work with buying cycles and content standards that remain frozen for 6 year periods.

In the industrial age, hard assets (factories) were depreciated over 20 years – and employees often stayed in jobs that long or longer. Therefore 6 year cycles were quick enough.

Now, the writeoff period for capital goods is often 3 years or less (durations that used to be associated only with R&D groups) – with most people holding jobs for 5 years or less.

It seems we’re all in for perpetual R&D – both in our lives and jobs and learning. Nonetheless, social networks (in cyberspace *and* meatspace) require stability. How can we steer between stultifying stasis and crippling chaos and instead have renewable rhythm?

Moreover, how can we bring along the increasingly marginalized segments of society? The world is too small to have royal wealth visible and cheek-by-jowl with grinding poverty. This is an unstable situation like a snow cornice on a mountinside after heavy snowfall. A little jostling can lead to a destructive avalanche.

Education is a far better means of improving the common man’s lot than Robin Hood taxation and social policy.

I too am hopeful in the long run, but fear for another period of dislocation and ideological strife in an age of WMDs and asymmetric warfare.

Let’s reverse a good lesson from the tactics of the terrorists and strive to change one subject, one grade level, one standard, one school district, one child’s life for the better and use the grand engines of society to sift and communicate what works.