Ackoff wants to turn learning right side up

For too long, we have educated people for a world that no longer exists, extinguishing their creativity and instilling values antithetical to those of a free, 21st century democracy. The principal objective of education as currently provided is to ensure the maintenance and preservation of the status quo—to produce members of society who will not want to challenge any fundamental aspects of the way things are.

Traditional education focuses on teaching, not learning. It incorrectly assumes that for every ounce of teaching, there is an ounce of learning by those who are taught. Being taught is, to a very large extent, boring and much of its content is seen as irrelevant. It is the teacher, not the student, who learns most in a traditional classroom.

Read his manifesto.

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How to educate without teaching

Effective educators do not teach. Teaching is usually an obstruction to learning. (…) However, a good educator facilitates one’s learning process, enables one to learn more rapidly and effectively and motivates one to do so. To a large extent they do so by making learning fun.- Russell Ackoff (CQM Journal)

Ackoff on educators and management gurus

The appeal of gurus lies to a large extent in the simplicity of the doctrines they put forth. They are simple no matter how complex the problems at which they are directed. They provide a life raft to those managers who are incapable of handling complexity. (…)

Contrary to what happens in politics and religion, in business circles there are so many gurus competing for followers that no one of them can dominate the minds, let alone the emotions, of potential followers. (…)

Educators stand in sharp contrast to gurus. Educators do not try to bring thinking to a halt but to initiate it. They want their students to extend and expand the ideas they present and students are encouraged to question and modify without constraint. Educators want their solutions to be treated as beginnings, not ends. Gurus lead into; educators lead out of. Gurus provide ready-made solutions but educators provide ways of finding individualized solutions. (…)

An educator tries to transmit a way of thinking and a way of conducting inquiries. And he does not pretend that these are the only ways. Among other things, he recognizes that differences in personality lead those with different personalities to select different ways of thinking and behaving. (CQM Journal)