Knowledge Machines

Isaac Asimov on Information Age education, 1988:

Or Seymour Papert, 1993:

The facetious old turn of phrase that identifies schooling with the three Rs — reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic — may express the most obstinate block to change in education. The central role of these ‘basics’ is never discussed; it is considered obvious. Thus the most important consequences of new technologies are not recognized by education policy-makers.

The role of the Rs in elementary education used to be beyond question. How effectively could one teach geography, history, and science to students who could not read? Looking back, we cannot seriously fault these arguments — within their historical context.

But looking forward, we can formulate new arguments beyond the imagination of 19th century thinkers, who could hardly have conjured images of media that would provide modes of accessing and manipulating knowledge radically different than those offered by the Rs. Nor could they have formulated what I see as the deep difference between education past and future: In the past, education adapted the mind to a very restricted set of available media; in the future, it will adapt media to serve the needs and tastes of each individual mind.”

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