Exploring the 'future of learning' demands being fairly tuned into the history of the school house, education, etc. Not a one vs. the other mindset, but to find 'truths' and commonalities wherever they lie.
One of the books that has made an impact on me as of late was co-authored by Dr. Catherine Burke from the University of Leeds (I had the chance to spend time with her 2 weeks ago in Florida after she keynoted a conference we were involved in). Called The School I'd Like, the book is a collection voices from over 15,000 British students (ages 5 to 18) that grew out of a 2001 Guardian newspaper contest (that first ran in 1967) which asked kids how schools really should be designed. No policy wonks, just kiddo imagination. Stunning imaginations, too...but also some powerful truths in the 'from the mouth of babes' mix. Best of all, Dr. Burke is a historian who also has done great research into the last 100+ years of school design theory, showing that often what is cutting-edge today is old-hat from yesteryear. Minus the computers, of course.
While we're tripping down educational history memory lane for clues to the changes (and lack there of) in our modern system of learning, its always good to see what YouTube can offer. Especially if you like a blend of documentary-based truth and a cultural zeitgeist smirk.
From the The National Institute for Mental Health comes a 1971 documentary (distributed by the State of George Dept. of Education) called "Social Seminar" which follows one female college student through her routine as it changes over the semesters:
I'm only showing part 1 because I find the opening segment when she sits in a college classroom to be highly 'instructive' and 'reflective' of our current state of learning affairs. Sadly, not much has changed from the teaching side of things to the student side of things today. Maybe longer sideburns then, but otherwise the same teaching lecture style and the same un-engaged student response seems to still rear its ironic head.
Note: you can find parts 2 and 3 via YouTube, but keep in mind that these are students in the 1970's...and it's a documentary...so there are references to drugs. If reality strikes you as less-than-valuable, skip parts 2 and 3. You'll get the point by segment 1 alone:
Curious. This clip is 35 years old, which makes the protagonist -- a college student named Bunny -- in her mid-50's now. It makes me wonder where she'd land today on the thoughts-about-education spectrum if they filmed an update. And also makes me wonder about the vast majority of education policy wonks and journalists today being roughly from the same generation as this then-young student...and how today's students are in some way paying the price for an earlier generation's continued confusion as to morality, policy, and education. Perhaps much of our current struggles to define a relevant educational experience for kids today (and tomorrow) stem from old battle lines that were never sorted out in the 60's and 70's. Especially the 'ironic' battle lines where memory seems to have faded over the years (or at least re-colored perspective).
Today's students, however, wonder when we well-intentioned adults/experts will begin to let go of 'yesteryear' and begin to grasp (instead) the historic social, communications, technological, and learning shift taking place beneath our 'digital immigrant' noses right this very moment. And if we'll actually have a seat of relevance in their lives as the years continue and it matters most.