Something to think about...
This meme has been floating around the internets for a while. I got it via Bishop Mike.
Seth Godin has been making the point for a while, in books like Linchpin, that the world of work and the sources of good jobs have changed, yet schools haven't. He has a new manifesto posted now called Stop Stealing Dreams in which he claims that our misaligned education system does just that.
The work sphere reads the shift first, because the balance of profits and losses, costs and opportunities shift immediately. The modern school system developed to help meet the need the barons of capitalism had for a predictable supply of workers who could follow factory protocols. The church was already comfortable with having people sit in rows and the experts up front, and adapted its methods to take advantage of the new supply of good students ready to absorb expertise and follow the rules.
Here's my addition to the meme:
Yes, schools are evolving into spaces for group work and interaction -- when they are not busy teaching to standardized tests. But there is a bigger shift in learning going on. No, its not about technology, but is centered in the individualized, on-demand self-learning that is mediated by the availability of always-on technology. What does it mean for learning that a worshipper can learn more about the subject of a sermon from a smartphone right in the pew? That students can go online to access information and commentary that is newer than the latest books? That self-regulating communities of amateurs, like the contributors to Wikipedia, can produce resources that rival edited, refereed publications? We don't know for sure, but we know the energy is flowing away from the center.
Beyond the ongoing shift from the factory floor to the office park, increasing numbers of knowledge jobs are freeing workers from offices. They are finding synergy working in public spaces like coffeeshops, creating virtual communities some wags have dubbed "laptopistan." And professionals working from home offices are banding together to support co-working spaces, in which knowledge workers share space with peers from outside their own corporation or agency. While many people have trouble recognizing these as workspaces, think of the collaboration and cross-pollenization and plain old inspiration that can launch in these spaces.
Its not clear what church in this new world should look like. But it's clear we have to respond.