Growing up, I read a lot of the works of Isaac Asimov, and not just the science fiction. Asimov was a true renaissance man, writing and presenting on a wide variety of non-fiction topics – history, culture, math, religion, and more – limited only by what he found interesting.
The Open Culture blog recently posted one part of an interview with Bill Moyers from 1989, before the web, long before iPads, in which he discusses the impact that computers will have on learning and our education system.
Asimov is blunt and to the point with his view of how schools are not organized to benefit kids.
Now a days what people call learning is forced on you. And everyone is forced to learn the same thing on the same day at the same speed in class. And everyone is different. For some it goes too fast, for some too slow, for some in the wrong direction.
A few minutes later, Moyers comments on Asimov’s assessment of American schools when he remarks that “[l]ike prison, the reward of school is getting out”.
So has anything changed in twenty three years? Possibly it’s become worse as the curriculum is being locked into preparation for standardized testing.
Anyway, in the rest of this short section, it’s interesting to hear Asimov’s predictions of how computers, which then were then still large boxes sitting on desks and hard wired to a network (if they were networked at all) through a dial-up modem, would fundamentally alter how people learned.
He gets a few details wrong, but most of his thoughts are quite accurate and very optimistic.