When talking to students, I often like to use a visual from the movie "Wall Street". Remember Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko? In the movie he's talking on a cell phone; a Motorola cinder block, that when adjusted for inflation, cost about $10,000 and about $1,000 a month to operate with 30 minutes of talk time. You couldn't give the thing away.
So I ask students to pull out their phones and show me what's in their pocket. They've got iPhones, Droids and whatnot. Rich kids, middle class kids, working class kids, they pretty much all have cell phones. Some have nicer ones; some less nice ones. Compare what you have in your pocket to what Michael Douglas had in that movie 25 years ago – and you had to be a millionaire to have that. Now everybody has one.
This thing has gotten better and cheaper, better and cheaper, better and cheaper. Now what do your schools look like? You can see the little light bulbs coming on over their heads. If you can figure out why your cell phone has gotten so much better and so much cheaper over time but your school still looks like something that was from the 1950s, 1960s – or in many cases the 1930s – then you'll have an idea about why this system doesn't work.
The problem with education is that we are a country of 300 plus million people. We are an extraordinarily diverse and complex country with an extraordinarily diverse and complex economy. We've got basically one model of K-12 education that comes from 19th century Prussia and Otto von Bismark. It’s a kind of factory model of education where the students are widgets and the schools are factories; they turn them out and they fit into various places in the economy. That is not a model for the 21st century.
The question isn't what kind of system to we replace our current education system with, it is what kind of systems, plural, do we replace it with.
Profit can act as a catalyst for advancement and is not necessarily evil. As with most things, in and of itself, it is morally benign. Much like a gun, profits can be used for good or evil.
The audio of this portion of the interview:
The entire interview can be found at Mike Rosen's webpage.