Personalized Learning Means Personalized Library

Alvin Toffler is a world renowned thinker that people listen to – CLOSELY! He’s saying that we need to “Shut down the public education system.” In a recent interview with Edutopia, Toffler said he was echoing what Bill Gates – another big thinker that people listen to – said roughly, “We don’t need to reform the system; we need to replace the system.”

Toffler added that “The public school system is designed to produce a workforce for an economy that will not be there. And therefore, with all the best intentions in the world, we’re stealing the kids’ future.” So, in addition to creating a massive debt for future generations of Americans, we are stealing their future through a nearly worthless education system? WOW! Anybody else think something HAS to change?

What it means is that educational change is demanded. Many smart people are working on it, as I’ve reported over the past two years – Partnership for 21st Century Skills, Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), Association of College and Research Libraries, American Association of School Librarians, and others.

According to Toffler;

Why does everybody have to start at age five? Maybe some kids should start at age eight and work fast. Or vice versa. Why is everything massified in the system, rather than individualized in the system? New technologies make possible customization in a way that the old system — everybody reading the same textbook at the same time — did not offer.

Any form of diversity that we can introduce into the schools is a plus. Today, we have a big controversy about all the charter schools that are springing up. The school system people hate them because they’re taking money from them. I say we should radically multiply charter schools, because they begin to provide a degree of diversity in the system that has not been present. Diversify the system.

… Businesses have to change at 100 miles per hour because if they don’t, they die. Competition just puts them out of the game. So they’re traveling very, very fast. … [G]oing 10 miles per hour. That’s the public education system. Schools are supposed to be preparing kids for the business world of tomorrow, to take jobs, to make our economy functional. The schools are changing, if anything, at 10 miles per hour. So, how do you match an economy that requires 100 miles per hour with an institution like public education? A system that changes, if at all, at 10 miles per hour?

Let’s hope and assume that significant education reform will happen on a nation-wide scale in the near future. What does that mean for librarianship?

So, let’s sit down as a culture, as a society, and say, “Teachers, parents, people outside, how do we completely rethink this? We’re going to create a new system from ground zero, and what new ideas have you got?” And collect those new ideas. That would be a very healthy thing for the country to do.

I just feel it’s inevitable that there will have to be change. The only question is whether we’re going to do it starting now, or whether we’re going to wait for catastrophe.

Think about your library in these new terms.
These are the fundamentals of Toffler’s vision for education in the 21st century:

    • Open 24 hours a day
    • Customized educational experience
    • Kids arrive at different times
    • Students begin their formalized schooling at different ages
    • Curriculum is integrated across disciplines
    • Non-teachers work with teachers
    • Teachers alternate working in schools and in business world
    • Local businesses have offices in the schools
    • Increased number of charter schools

Does a customized educational experience mean a customized library experience? OF COURSE! Isn’t that what 21st Century librarianship means – your library that meets your community’s needs? OF COURSE!

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