So how would education work in a resource based economy? Here is the Chapter on education from the book ‘The best that money can’t buy’ by the founder and lead designer of The Venus project, Jacque Fresco discussing the topic:
EDUCATION: MINDS IN THE MAKING
The more intelligent our children, the better our lives and the richer our culture will be. Every child using drugs and living a life without direction and purpose is damaged life that we will have to pay for into the future. It is our children who will inherit the future. With the proper information and nurturing, they will understand that Earth is a fantastic place capable of providing more than enough for the needs of everyone.
The development of a new civilization involves not only the construction of new cities for living, but also the building of positive and caring interpersonal relationships. The young and old of this new civilization will learn to live in harmony with one another. Education plays the most important role in achieving this goal, particularly in children.
The subjects studied will be related to the direction and needs of this new evolving culture. This new curriculum will emphasize the generalist point of view and the introduction to general science. Students will be made aware of the symbiotic relationships between people, technology, and the environment; they will have a better understanding of the evolution of cultures and the application of advanced technology to this new social design.
Schools of tomorrow will teach children to be analytical. Students will study the interrelationship of life, rather than discrete and unconnected subject matter. The focus will be on the interrelationships of humans with Earth and with each other. Early education will emphasize understanding and cooperation.
In the redesign of education, the first questions asked are: what ends does education serve? And in cybernated world society, how do we determine the direction of education? Some goals might be:
- Working toward regarding the world’s resources as a common heritage.
- Transcending the artificial boundaries that separate people.
- Replacing the monetary economy with a resource-based world economy.
- Reclaiming and restoring the environment to as nearly a natural condition as possible.
- Redesigning cities, transportation systems, and agricultural and industrial plants so that they are energy efficient, clean, and serve the needs of all people.
- Outgrowing political governance, whether at the local, national, or supranational levels, as a means of social management.
- Sharing and applying new technologies for the benefit of all.
- Exploring, developing, and using clean renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, geothermal, and tidal power.
- Utilizing the highest quality products for the benefits of the world’s people, while eliminating planned obsolescence.
- Focusing on interpersonal skills to improve relationships.
- Requiring an environmental impact study prior to construction of any mega projects.
- Encouraging the widest range of creativity and incentive toward constructive endeavors.
- Stabilizing the world’s population through education and voluntary birth control, in order to conform to the carrying capacity of Earth.
- Eliminating nationalism, bigotry, and prejudice.
- Phasing out any type of elitism, technical or otherwise.
- Arriving at methodologies through careful research rather than random opinions.
- Enhancing communication so that our language is more relevant to the physical conditions of the world around us.
- Providing not only the necessities of life, but also challenges that stimulate the mind, while emphasizing individuality rather than uniformity.
- Finally, preparing people intellectually and emotionally for the changes that lie ahead.
Ultimately, these goals determine the direction education will take. If we decide to explore the moon’s surface or dig a tunnel under the sea, we must first build an organization dedicated to that goal with the capabilities to accomplish it. To develop a civilization that provides a higher standard of living for all and eliminates war, poverty, and hunger, society must adopt goals that can accomplish these ends.
With a resource-based economy education would stress a cooperative world enterprise in which individuality, creativity, and cooperation would be the norm rather than the exception. It would be free politics, folkways, and superstitions, and would encourage the widest possible innovative thinking.
In the schools of a unified world civilization, classrooms could provide information about human behaviour and the forces that shape our culture and values. All students could have access to information without restrictions of any kind. Individual ideologies would remain as a set of tools and as an associative framework, but would undergo self-modification and growth with new information and experiences.
What would likely be perplexing to the citizens of the future is why there was, in the past, only one Edison, one Pasteur, one Alexander Graham Bell, one Tesla and, in general, so few others of their calibre: why was it that so few original minds managed to emerge from the billions populating our planet?
Imagine a world where thousands of such individuals live and prosper at the same time, thinking and creating to their full ability – a world in which most human beings actively participate in the improvement of Earth’s conditions instead of simply toiling to make a living.
People of the future may find it incredible that leaders of independent nations and industries could not grasp the possibilities of a social system of cooperation rather than of competition.
We desperately need a saner mode of civilization that no longer divides humankind. Residents of new networked communities would be educated form birth to consider themselves planetary citizens, without sacrificing freedom and individuality to any form of totalitarianism.
Schools of tomorrow
Education will undergo considerable improvements. Children will be given time to explore their own interests while also participating in cooperative behaviour and interaction with other children and the environment. Hands-on experiments and tours of the natural environment, production plants, and other industries will provide ongoing laboratories of learning.
The learning environment would encourage actual participation on simplified levels. Younger children would plant seeds in soil, irrigate, fertilize them, and record their growth, as is presently done in many schools. Actually participating in plant and animal development alters forever a child’s view of nature and enhances their comprehension of the way nature works, and how it’s many and varied functions interrelate with each other. They will see that nature is a symbiotic process and that no single thing enables a plant to grow. They would see that a plant cannot grow without radiant energy from the sun, water, and nutrients, and even that gravity plays a major role in the process.
Children would understand that each individual can take an idea only so far. Others invariably add to it and improve upon it. Each contribution motivates and encourages others. Ideas grow and expand like crystals into varied and complex patterns. With a better realization of our interdependence on one another, self-centeredness gradually disappears.
Patriotism and national pride, which tend to obscure the contributions of other nations, would no longer be relevant to a new emerging culture. The children could learn, for example, that six hundred years before Christ the Arabs developed the electric battery. A thousand years before the Wright brothers launched their first flying machine at Kitty Hawk, the Chinese developed man-carrying kites. A Russian named Tsiolkovsky was first to describe in detail the principles of space flight. A Frenchman, Louis Pasteur, developed an inoculation against rabies. In the sixteenth century, the Italian Leonardo da Vinci envisioned the principals of flight and designed a rudimentary form of the helicopter. The Polish astronomer, Nicolas Copernicus, published his book on the revolution of the celestial bodies. Albert Einstein, a German, gave us the theory of relativity. The contributions of all nations made our standard of living possible and enriched our lives. But we still are only at the threshold of the future.
Students would learn that no single nation has all of the answers nor an answer for all situations. Society is in a constant process of change. Students would understand that there are no final frontiers. They would also realize that each phase of society will evolve a set of values appropriate to that time. All values, including many of the postulates of science, must be utilized as the best tools available at the time. With the advent of additional information and more sophisticated tools, our notions about the nature of the world could be constantly updated. Science would be taught as a set of known facts and applications that are subject to change as more information becomes available not as a set of immutable rules and laws.
Children taught through cooperative participatory hands-on experiences develop better socialization skills and self-confidence. Instead of rote learning, our new schools could provide opportunities for children to improve their interaction with one another in real life situations. In other instances students may choose to explore independent interests by selecting their own curriculum. If they prefer, they would be assisted by counsellors or artificial intelligence machines, which would convey information through words, diagrams, visual displays, and many other methods. Our new schools will accommodate the many varied ways in which children learn.
Education would emphasize humane values and communication, an essential process to improve the interaction and communication between people of all races, colour, and creeds. Both children and adults can learn to outgrow the self-centeredness that dominates the behaviour of many today. A new form of education could make abundantly clear that our likes and dislikes are based upon our present culture, and that our visions of the future are always culture-bound.
The children would visit farms, power plants, production facilities, and resource centers, and could actually take part in managing and planning their own affairs. Each child could experience leadership by planning activities, and these responsibilities could be constantly rotated so that each student would gain the experience.
To improve the mental condition of all our children, we must not only educate them through books and other visual aids, but also through games that are both physically and mentally stimulating.
The Children’s Centers would be equipped with books, computers, and a wide variety of visual aids. At these learning centers, the games children play would be relevant to the needs of the child and the emergent culture.Today, far too many of the games available to our children depend on competition ad encourage hostility.
The game of chess does not generate creativity in other areas; with practice, strategies for chess may be enhanced but that does not enhance creativity beyond that game. This game takes a tremendous amount of effort to learn but is about nothing in particular. If this same effort were applied to games that improved one’s understanding of nutrition, health, an disease-control, it would be far more beneficial for the player and for the society. People consider chess a challenge, but its significance is equal to that of a beauty contest. What games will be available in the future?
Consider a game centered on a virtual image of Earth. As children touch various areas of the Earth they could learn about the geography and languages of those areas. With laser indicators pinpointing specific areas, they could interact with and receive relevant information about any aspect of a geographical area. This could be done with as much fun and challenge as are provided by the games played today, without the need for outsmarting other players.
Others games can connect information about the physical world to needs of individuals and society. There can be games to enhance one’s mathematical abilities. Skeletal structures of humans and other animals, when touched, can verbally identify structures and organs teaching anatomy and physiology. The study of plants and other physical phenomena might be similar. Other games will encourage creativity. In an environment of creative games, associative memory and the experiences gained form the basis of creative thinking. To think is to make a correlation, and it is the relevance of the correlation that counts. Imagination is based on cumulative experience. The broader the background, the more a person brings to a subject.
People of the future would be encouraged to engage in constructive diversity. Even nursery children could participate in games to develop flexibility, individual initiative, and creativity, along with a high degree of self-sufficiency. If they were told that four and four were eight, they would probably reply: “Eight what?” If two drops of fluid are suspended in an acoustical chamber we can, by sonic means, convert two drops, or one drop to four drops. All numerical relationships in the future would be structured within a given frame of reference. Today children are not taught how to ask question and examine ideas. Education consists primarily of rote learning, of simply memorizing concepts and propaganda. Children of the future will not be satisfied to accept ideas without an in-depth exploration and understanding of them. If a child of the future were told that the country they lived in was the greatest in the world, they might ask “How so?” and “Compared to what set of standards?” Free minds of the twenty-first century would challenge everything – and most would, in fact, be experts at changing their minds.
At an early age children could be exposed to social and cultural anthropology. They could also be exposed to the history of civilization and the history of technology from bow and arrow to the space age.
Rather than trying to instill in them a sense of self-worth through moral lectures, we could urge children to develop the necessary skills to further their inquiry. Education in the future could utilize and harness the natural curiosity of children. The children would not, however, get instantaneous fulfillment of their requests. This tends to diminish incentive and makes it almost impossible for them to live without immediate gratification. For example, if a child asked a parent to build a model airplane the parent could say, “I will teach you so you know how to build one.” This helps the child appreciate his/her own accomplishments, and improves their sense of self worth. As this process continues, the child will develop greater self-sufficiency and depend less upon others.
Children find animated toys exciting and interesting. In the new schools they could develop their own animated toys. Before they actually build these models, they would be instructed in the necessary crafts. As they develop skills in working with tools for soldering, wiring, bonding, and fabricating, they can actually see and use the results. This would give them an appreciation of the effort that is required to make items they might otherwise take for granted. They could constantly learn to apply high safety standards while working with simple, and eventually, more complex machines.
Students could learn how to design and draw the models they intend to build both by hand and by computer. Science, mathematics, art, written communications, and interpersonal skills come into play in this single task. Once a project is completed, the students will better understand the relationship between the blueprint and the materials required for completing a project. Mathematics would be taught as part of the design initiative in the building of these projects, so that there is a physical reference for numerical systems. In this more advanced system, it should be easy to transfer these principles to other areas of creativity within the arts and sciences. Through this process, students will be able to grasp the relationship between nature, technology, and civilization.
If we want children to achieve a positive constructive relationship with one another and become contributing members of society, we must design an environment that produces that desired behaviour. For example, when the children are interested in learning to assemble a small motor vehicle, the design might require four children to lift the car while two others attach the wheels. The rest of the car would be assembled in a similar manner, needing the help and cooperation of everyone to complete the vehicle. This enlightened form of education would help students understand the advantages of cooperation.
Exercise in our school would not be mandatory, monotonous, or involve adversarial competition, but would be incorporated into the classroom experience. A craft shop the children enjoy using might be located on a hilltop in the middle of a lake. To get there, the children would have to row a boat or swim, and then climb the hilltop. This not only provides exercise, but also a sense of achievement, which helps their mental health and incentive.
There are simplified examples of complex processes and ideas which should be considered for our redesign of education.
Much attention would be given to emotional development. This would involve learning to interact effectively with others, share experiences, examine alternative approaches to problems, and allow for cultural and individual differences. This could reduce personal and interpersonal conflicts considerably.
Children will learn to modify their approach to get their point across, employing reason and restraint rather than name-calling or raising their voices. They would learn how to honestly disagree without bitter feelings. Judgmental terms like “right” and “wrong” would be avoided and phased out. They would have more refined vocabulary and understand terms such as “a closer approximation of reality.” Their vocabulary would also be factually meaningful, and not just a purely emotional expression. A relevant vocabulary will describe the situation factually. For example, “The inclined ramp is too steep for elderly people,” will be said rather than an emotional remark like, “A moron must have built that ramp.” In other words, the child will learn that descriptive and constructive language is more likely to improve the situation than outright criticism.
Education would be participatory. Students would work cooperatively as teams. For example, if a class-group were hiking through a wooded area and came to a stream, one of the children might say to both adults and peers, “I have an idea, and I’d like to hear what you think about it.” With this exposure children will listen and ask questions. Rather than being met with phrases such as “that will never work”, students and instructors could submit ideas to the class and test the validity of their proposals, receiving suggestions rather than just criticism.
These young people would willingly interact with the environment, taking an active role in hiking, exploring, and instigating natural phenomena. The environment would be structured to deliver the best in nutrition and health. Most importantly, when confronted with an unfamiliar question or situation, not only would they know where to look for appropriate information, they would know the appropriate questions to ask, and how to ask them.
Most children in our culture do not learn to describe physical processes adequately because they do not have a vocabulary equal to their physical abilities. They are not encouraged to formulate such descriptions in their daily lives; therefore they do not develop an appropriate, descriptive language. There is an old truism that says: Once one can correctly state the problem a solution is not far off.”
When children grow up having a physical reference for the words they use, that will provide them with a more realistic understanding of the world and their relationship to it. Utilizing these methods, a child will gain skill in problem solving that may be utilized in different situations in the future. Rather than acting from an emotional or uninformed standpoint, they would ask, “What is the nature of the situation?”, or “What do we have here?” This unique education will help children become creative and participatory members of society.
Children would learn that it takes many experiments and a great deal of effort to solve problems. Through this process they realize that, although they may fail initially to achieve what they set out to do, this is an acceptable part of human experience. They would learn that, in medical research and other fields, it sometimes takes thousands of unsuccessful experiments before arriving at a solution. Even experiments that fail often function as essential steps in the process of achieving a goal. Sometimes other discoveries emerge along the way. Children would learn not to get discouraged with failures, and that they are an inherent part of all research and development. Few of our schoolbooks detail the long tedious work required to invent an object like the light bulb. No single individual manages one great leap in technology or science without first taking several strides. Each invention is a result of a series of progressive refinements, one upon another. Every success results from the failures and success that have preceded it. Unfortunately all too often our romantic notions and egos obscure this understanding.
The serial progression of creativity can easily be verified if we examine the history of invention. This same process applies to the arts and sciences.
Children will come to understand that no single entity, living or nonliving, is self-activated. This concept is referred to as the mechanistic point of view. For example, a ball does not simply roll down a hill: it is acted upon by gravity. The heat from the sun is generated by a nuclear furnace; this furnace is set in motion by immense pressure. A child will ask what makes an airplane fly, as though there were a simple answer. They ask, “Is it the propeller?” No, it requires an engine to turn a propeller. They reply, “Is it the engine?” No, the engine requires fuel. They say, “Oh, is it the fuel?” In other words, there are many interacting principles at work, involving both aerodynamics and physics. All things are acted upon by resident forces, from a single cell to the cosmos in its entirely and, as noted previously, even human behaviour.
Children will learn that the assumption of a beginning or an ends is a fictitious assumption. This concept is a carryover from earlier civilization’s attempts to account for the nature of events in the physical world with very limited information.
Our redesigned education would be free from the influence of moribund institutions, corporate or self-interests, or any indoctrination of a political, national, or religious nature. Similarly, the educational system would be a continuous seamless process, with the degree of each individual’s curiosity enabling them to progress to the next level without grading.
Such an education would not only emphasize science and human behaviour. It would also provide students with the necessary and changing professions required to maintain social and individual growth and stability in a resource-based economy. This education would enable students to engage constructively with all members of society, and also have the ability to engage in international communication.
Some examples of future professions are mathematics, nanotechnology, nuclear engineering, nuclear chemistry, automation, cybernetics, systems engineering, systems analysis, remote control technology, 3-D virtual prototyping, design of plug-in components, computer-aided design and engineering, micro-machined electronic and mechanical systems, motion control, photochemical machining, ocean sciences, automated data acquisition systems, mariculture technology, simulation technology, life sciences, ecology, sociology, behavioural sciences, advanced plasma technology, industrial design, prefabrication technology, medical and bio-engineering, nutrition and health, soil enhancement systems, recycling of waste products, space science, terraforming technology and others for which we have no name or knowledge today. Other professions will disappear in a non-monetary, resource-based economy: banking, law, sales, advertising, investment brokering, real estate management, and others concerned primarily with the use of money, property, and debt.
As a student progresses from the formative stage of development to the application phase, universities and colleges of the future would guide students to achieve skills relevant to an emergent society, and also encourage them to experiment in ways that would solve the social problems that remain.
In the lifelong process of education, all age levels could live in cities that could be designed and operated as university cities. Universities today are designed to provide the most advanced opportunities to facilitate education in the arts, science, music, etc. The cities of the future would be an extension of this process for fulfilling human needs. They would serve as living universities while constantly updating information.
Much education today consists of a high degree of specialization, which tends to give a person tunnel vision and a narrow perspective about the actual interrelationships of all physical phenomena. Today it is even difficult for one schooled in sociology to communicate in depth with members of different professions. Students of the future would be encouraged to view the world in a more holistic manner; accordingly, they would be able to converse intelligently across various disciplines.
Children brought up in a practical working environment of cooperation, sharing, and understanding will absorb and learn concern for fellow human beings, reciprocating warmth and love from the people extensional to them. When the environment is intelligently and humanely managed, the system and the individual are mutual beneficiaries, each reinforcing and rewarding the other.
In a resource-based economy, children will live in a world with values far different from today’s. As a result of this education and environment they will possess a flexibility of attitude and mind that will enable them to evaluate new and different ideas. The earlier the exposure to science with human concern, the better prepared children will be to take their place in the cybernated world of the near future. Science and education, when devoid of a social conscience or environmental and human concern, are meaningless.
From THE BEST THAT MONEY CAN’T BUY
BEYOND POLITICS, POVERTY, & WAR
By Jacque Fresco