Learning to Unlearn|Oct 6, 2007 4:36 PM| by:

Education of the Future

We are living in a fast changing world. Due to advanced science and technology man has acquired such powers as could be helpful in wiping out poverty, ignorance and sickness from the world. Scientists have visualised the future changes which are likely to occur as a result of scientific and technological advancement.

According to Dr. Philip Handler (1917), we have attained such scientific and technological knowledge as would enable us to stabilise world population and improve conditions of living. In terms of educational technology, Dr. Handler states: “In the near future, each individual will have a private, pocket size, two-way television instrument and immediate personal access to a computer serving as his news source. It will be his privately programmed educational medium, his memory and his personal communicator with the world at large – with his bank, his broker, government agents, shopping services, and so on.”(1)

The future impacts of science and technology on human society have also been visualised by Dr. Handler. Accor­ding to him: “Less than five per cent of the working population will be engaged in primary agriculture, with no more than another 20 per cent engaged in other primary productive activities such as food processing, mineral extraction, construction or manufacturing.

“The bulk of the labour force, then, will engage in activities currently classified as services rather than pro­duction of goods. The principal pursuits of mankind will be cultural, recreational or devoted to the expansion of knowledge and understanding.

“Most of the diseases which have been man’s most ancient enemies will be matters of historic interest only. Each individual may look forward to about fourscore years of vigorous, healthy, pain-free life before succum­bing to the ravages of old age.”(2)

There is an explosion of knowledge in the modern world and this is also creating problems for educators. Whatever we knew in 1901 was doubled in 1950. Our accumulated knowledge in 1950 was doubled in 1960 and in 1970 this was again doubled. Thus human knowledge, due to advanced science and technology, has been multiplying itself leading to the explosion of knowledge.

Another important fact to bear in mind is that due to advanced science and technology the modern world has shrunk and its size has become small. We have such means of communication as enable us to know and reach any corner of the world. According to Wilbert E. Moore: “In these times scarcely a day passes without the newspaper and other mass media reporting a new or continuing crisis of great international import in some little known part of the world. The technology of com­munication and travel has, it is said, shrunk the size of the world. The politics of international tension have made that small world a dangerous place for human habita­tion.”(3)

Modern science and technology can be useful if they are utilised properly. But at present man does not possess the wisdom to use this scientific and technological power properly. A number of crises have appeared due to human selfishness, shortsightedness and hunger for power. It has already been noted that with the help of science, span of life has increased and there is also a population explosion in developing countries like India. It has been emphasised that if mankind has to survive in the future, efforts must be made to check population growth and to develop such a world understanding as will lead to the development of a world-wide government which will be responsible for maintenance of world peace.

Prof. James A. Parkins, Chairman and Director of the Centre for Education Enquiry, New York, recently stated that almost all the universities of the world are faced with five crises. These are:

1. Crisis of numbers
2. Crisis of finance
3. Crisis of relevance
4. Crisis of priorities
5. Crisis of scepticism

The Crisis of Numbers

The crisis of numbers in the educational world is a universal phenomenon. According to Prof. James A. Parkins, “While experiences differ from country to country, on the average the number of students entering higher education has doubled in the decade from 1960 to 1970. Even this swollen number will at least double in the next decade. If there were no other problems, this astonishing growth would, by itself, result in almost intolerable strains on most institutions of higher education in most countries.”

If education has to be an effective instrument of planned social change, it must adapt itself to the changing needs of society. The modern age is essentially a technological age. In order to live in this age every man must acquire technological knowledge and skill. The Kothari Commission has rightly emphasised the need for science-­based education.

The Crisis of Finance

Due to increase in number of pupils more educational institutions are needed and in order to run them more funds are required. Educational institutions all over the world, even in a rich country like America, require more funds because costs of education have risen tremendously. Previously universities were receiving fi­nancial support mostly from private funds. Now-a-days they have to look for financial assistance from the govern­ment.

University autonomy all over the world is being threatened due to governmental interference through its con­trol over academic expenditures. This is not a good sign because education can be an effective instrument of social change only when it is allowed full play and not controlled or interfered with by any vested interest.

The Crisis of Relevance

In a static society change is very slow and social patterns continue in the same form for a number of generations. Means of production and distribution are simple and social institutions perform their functions mostly undis­turbed.

Due to rapid changes brought about by scientific and technological advancement much of knowledge and learning which was considered useful in a traditional and static society has become irrelevant and meaningless in a modern and dynamic society.

In India the question of relevance has been raised in the form of student unrest. Students all over the world are dissatisfied with the kind of education which is given to them because it does not prepare them for life. Students today want such education as will enable them not only to understand their past but also equip them for the future. Contents of many courses in our universities are meaningless in the present context. We want to build a socialist society and from this point of view it is necessary that there should be equal educational opportunity for all. Such education will be an effective instrument of planned social change as it fulfils the needs and aspirations of youth.

The Crisis of Priorities

The time has come to think of priorities with a view to bring about desirable social change. Whatever was considered good in the past may not be regarded so now because of changes in political, social and economic conditions of life.

Today the need is to provide such education as will enable young men and women to be self-employed. The educational system needs to be based on work-experience. Learning by doing and earning while learning are necessary if education has to be an effective instrument of planned social change.

The Crisis of Scepticism

There are times when doubts are raised in the accepted beliefs, ideals and principles. In a healthy society indivi­duals are permitted to express their views without fear. Unfortunately those in power in our universities and other educational institutions do not like to hear the voice of dissent. They want only to be dittoed by a passive group of teachers and pupils. But this is no more possible. In a fast changing world where ideas flow from one corner to the other easily and quickly, it is not only difficult but rather impossible to exercise control over expression and exchange of ideas.

One of the functions of the university is to encourage new thinking so that new avenues of thought are discovered. Due to lack of courage and initiative educational leadership in most countries of the world is for the status quo. Most of the people who are responsible for making education an effective instrument of social change, lack foresight, initiative and boldness to leave the beaten path and lead the new generation to the brave new world.

Due to rapid scientific and technological changes we are faced with a cultural crisis. In other words, we have come to a point that requires clear and concise formulation of our moral and social values. It has been observed that when a traditional society proceeds towards industrialisation there are three alternatives open before it.

1. The first is that it may continue to hold its tradi­tionalism and refuse to assimilate the values, ideas and attitudes typical of an industrial society.

2. The second alternative open to such a society is that it may remain uncertain in regard to its policy matters and permit a kind of drift in all matters. Such a policy is very harmful for it does not help in progress and leaves the individuals at the mercy of prevailing circumstances. In many societies of the world we find these two trends. That is, some societies look behind and receive inspiration from their ancient past without caring for the present or the future. This is typical of some of the societies in the East. In some of the Western societies where tradition is weak and there is no deep sense of history, a feeling of uncertainty prevails for the people who refuse to take up a position.

3. The third alternative, perhaps the most desirable alternative, is to resolve the cultural crisis and adopt a world view which will include all mankind and emphasise essential unity of all religions. In other words, we need a spiritual regeneration in this world today.

Along with this we have to strengthen democratic institutions and safeguard political and social freedoms. People must have an abiding faith in democracy and freedom. These are the three alternatives which are before the world today. As it has been pointed out earlier, the first two alternatives have no value. The third alternative of a world community should be our goal and the task of education is to pave the way for such a society as will be based upon the concept of the good of all and a glorious future for the man of tomorrow.

Thus education of the future has to preserve human values and see that the human factor is not neglected. In other words, education should continue to pay proper attention towards the harmonious development of human personality. If individuals have an integrated individuality, if the personality of all persons flowers to the full, the danger to human values will be removed and dehumanisa­tion will be controlled.

Finally, the task of education of today as well as of tomorrow is to help the individual to know himself as Socrates wanted centuries ago. So long as the individual is ignorant of his real self, his potentials and his mission of life, he cannot contribute in a creative manner towards his own growth and thedevelopment of his society.

Educators can develop a sense of self-respect and self-­esteem among their pupils by respecting them as individuals of unique abilities. As a matter of fact a real teacher always does so. When a real teacher teaches he makes the pupil feel his uniqueness and the potential of things he can do after his full development. Education of the future is a challenge as well as an opportunity for those who dream of one world and aworld government.

Sitaram Jayaswal


1. Philip Handler, “Can Man Shape his Future?”, Span, March, 1971.
2. Ibid
3. James A. Parkins, “Five Crises of World Universities”, Span, March, 1971.

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