Gotham Gal had a great post today about the role of women in education and the role that technology can play in bringing more of them into the sector. True. All of it. But, I think it goes beyond that. What Gotham Gal noticed was really the inherent mismatch between our industrial model education and our collective post-industrial mind.
Saying that education is an inherently female business or sector is like saying that poetry is only for the French.
It sounds true.
The French are pretty good at poetry. Baudelaire wrote some insane sonnets about death, the power of love, the drunkenness of life in a bacchanalian and well-lit Paris. Baudelaire wrote about the shock of encroaching civilization, but not the civilization that we think is civilized and “natural.” Rather, he railed against the forced dogma of industrial education, city lights, a mechanical world.
See where I’m going with this? Gotham Gal is on to something. She has teased out of her investment summit experience the stark reality that there is a fundamental mismatch between the inherent collective shape of education — it is organic, it is social, it is fundamentally viral — and the way we offer it to students and their future career minders, corporations.
She visits the Berkery Noyes VC in Education Summit and remarks that there are many men in suits milling about, inquisitive about their opportunities in education.
She is, in a sense, the Baudelaire in the room.
Back to the room of men. I would hope that through technology more and more women will be able to create ideal situations for themselves to work in areas differently vs the classic 9-5 situation. The area of education is an ideal area for women to enter from a business perspective as regardless of being a mother or not there is generally a maternal element to a woman’s personality. Perhaps that is why education was the original stomping ground for women who first entered the work place. The more women I speak to feel like I do. We are lone cowboys spending time in organizations or talking to businesses without having someone to bounce those ideas and concepts off of. Maybe there are more women than I realize who are in the field but are in their homes trying to make changes. Who knows.
My two responses to this:
1. Women are not the only half of the species who need someone to bounce ideas off, to talk to, or to collaborate with in order to generate creative solutions. I believe there is something creatively “viral” in all of us. For some it is locked away in these classrooms, where we are forced to adopt industrial thought practices to fit into our conception of a civilized economy.
2. And historically speaking, I don’t think women got into teaching because they are instinctively maternal and like to take care of people. I think they got into teaching because the laws and the structure of the American economy did not provide women with as much access to higher-paying jobs or opportunities.
Isn’t it ironic that an education system created to bring America into the industrial age, avoids, and in fact rails against technology, which is the hallmark of the newest global age of information and access?
Our education system avoids the use of digital learning strategies and high technology, which unleashes that inherent creativity and connects people, like nodes, to the rest of the world, to the Gaia of thought that allows for sharing and collaboration.
The great thing about social media is that it re-creates the true purpose of education — mixing and synergy, communication, and the lifting and stealing of ideas in creative sharing (which is exactly what poets do — look at Shakespeare’s lifting of Catullus and other earlier poets, or Dante’s liberal re-phrasing of several of his predecessors and contemporaries in the Divine Trilogy).
One of the distinctly disappointing things about education is exactly what Gotham Gal says — sitting around for eight hours being spoken to is unbearable. Who can learn in that environment? Kids don’t really learn. Learning is active. What they really do is memorize a social code that allows them to tick the box of mental requirements that allow them to eventually grow up to work in a post-industrial economy in an industrial way. The world is not industrial, at least not the half they live in now.
That industrial way is a forced system of gender roles — and we don’t have to get into that (it’s a slightly Marxist sentiment) that prevents the society from realizing its true form and shape, which we don’t even know, since we are locked into the industrial mindset.
Young men and young woman all over the world use social media to converse after school (and sometimes during school when they craft those sneaky text messages to one another). They want to communicate. They want to learn.
I hope more women get into education, not just because it’s a system inherently ripe for female interaction, but because the other half of the sky is women, and we need as many voices as we can in our culture to create the kind of economy and the kind of education system we need to make every student successful.
If that starts with technology, as Gotham Gal says, then so be it. I agree with her. I think that will make it possible. Technology will liberate more women (and men) from a 9-5 standardized workday that no longer fits in a global and post-industrial world.