The Education Industry

By W. Kenneth Richmond | Go to book overview

12 · Educational Technology:
What Is and What Might Be

By turns sardonic and buoyant in its moods, now tacking in the face of downright disbelief, now veering on the side of optimism, The Education Industry has sought to develop a consistent theme. Summarized, it amounts to saying that the systematic and controlled application of science-based knowledge and techniques can bring about a massive enlargement of human experience, raise standards of achievement, of aspiration, of critical awareness as well as of economic growth – standards of living as they are commonly called. It is the conviction that educational technology is destined to emerge as the central humane discipline of the future.

A consummation devoutly to be wished is one thing, but how can we be sure that this ideal state of affairs is attainable, not a mirage of the imagination induced by wishful thinking? Unfortunately, there are two provisos attached to the conviction. One is that the theoretical hypotheses we adopt should accurately predict consequences in actual practice: it is not enough that the mind-models we favour stop short at thought-experiments. Simulation has its place, but so far as the educational process is concerned we must beware of as-if solutions. The other proviso is that the available techniques must be fully utilized: there is no point in tooling up for car manufacture until people know how to drive! Granted that systems theory and all it stands for may need to be called in question, it is this second proviso which should chiefly be a cause for concern, for the dilly-dallying rates of progress and reform in British education are largely due to our apparent inability to use the resources already at our disposal to the best possible advantage.

As regards the first proviso, there are many examples of theoretical concepts and techniques drawn from one scientific field, and intended for dealing with one kind of data, being borrowed and applied equally

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