The following analysis will outline a position to create a dual system within U.S. Education called LED accelerator. This program shares the goals of other dual systems like Xerox PARC, DARPA and Google X that were created to develop breakthrough innovation within their respective parent organization. Wired Magazine article on these dual systems: http://www.wired.com/insights/2013/09/the-case-for-breakthrough-innovation/.
Additionally, an argument will be made to create a Universal Vision for U.S. Education. A cohesive Universal Vision is needed because the primary and secondary education system within the United States has become an unwieldy $600 Billion a year hierarchical system. In turn, multiple strategies and programs have been enacted to improve some aspect of the system. But they are all disjunctive strategies that are unconnected to a Universal Vision for education. Once a Universal Vision is established it will help guide and transform strategy not just for LED accelerator but also for the entire education system.
The foundation of this analysis is based on the work of business professor John P. Kotter, economist George Gilder, and psychology professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, as well as quoted insight from over a dozen iconic innovators and thought leaders. The analysis will synthesize a great deal of information from multiple fields to attain a high level perspective on U.S. Education.
Analysis on LED accelerator will be presented first, followed by the Universal Vision for education.
Imagine a surgeon from the 1850's being placed into a modern surgical room. He or she would feel completely lost. Now imagine a schoolteacher from the 1850's being placed into a modern classroom. With relatively minor adjustments, he or she would feel right at home within this environment. Other than some modern classrooms replacing books with desktops/tablets, there has been little system advancement in 150 years. Lucy Dinwiddie, a Global Learning & Executive Development Leader with General Electric, had this observation and question about this issue:
“In the agricultural era, schools mirrored a garden. In the industrial era, classes mirrored the factory, with an assembly line of learners. In the digital-information era, how will learning look?”
To answer that question from an empirical policy and administrative standpoint, we would need 150 years of recorded classroom data that an advancing education system would provide. But we do not have that data. Other than some recent trials with magnet schools, what we have now is the realization that the main tenant of the U.S. Department of Education mission statement, to ensure student “global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence,” is not being achieved. Consequently, we cannot continue to approach education in the same way and expect different results.
While it may seem clear that the educational system is not meeting its own goals and mission statements, finding an effective solution proves difficult. In seeking long-term, valuable change, it is useful to look at the realities of another sector: the business world.
Policy analysts agree that Federal and state funding for research, procurement and participation in coordinating collaboration between public and private sectors has played a key role in the technological breakthroughs that have sustained U.S. industry's global predominance since WWII.
In the modern interconnected world, the pace of innovation is constantly accelerating. Global access to free information and inexpensive technology has now enabled the potential for breakthrough innovation to happen anywhere in the world. The role that Federal and state government previously played is no longer sufficient to help U.S. industry. In response, cities, corporations, universities and foundations are taking the initiative to create startup villages and accelerators to foster innovation among entrepreneurs and their companies. But even this is not enough to counter the global threat to U.S. Industry that is engaged in creating cutting edge products and services.
Eric Schmidt, former CEO and current chairman of Google, said this when he recently spoke in Berlin about this very topic:
“But more important, someone, somewhere in a garage is gunning for us. I know, because not long ago we were in that garage. Change comes from where you least expect it…. Inventions are always dynamic and the resulting upheavals should make us confident that the future won't be static. This is the process of innovation…. History has proven that size and past success are no guarantee for the future. Great companies can be surpassed swiftly.”
Additionally, it is no longer enough for companies to invest in their own R&D to innovate. A Booz-Allen study found that, “innovation effectiveness does not correlate well with company size or with scale of R&D investment.” Therefore, the former advantage of an organized hierarchical government and corporate system, a central pillar of the U.S. economy that industry had relied on, has now been made obsolescent by a diffused global information system.
The solution to this economic threat entails continuing the successful collaboration between public and private sectors, but at the secondary (and then primary) education level. A new system is needed within education that develops the skills of select young individuals of both genders, giving them start-up accelerator experience and guidance from private sector instructors. This new system needs to draw on the resources of its hierarchical education system parent, while simultaneously being independent of its constraints.
The conceptual basis for such a new system is proposed by John P. Kotter, a Professor Emeritus at Harvard Business School and New York Times best selling author. In his latest book, Accelerate, he writes:
“The world is changing at a rate at which basic systems, structures and cultures built over the past century cannot keep up with the demands being placed on them. Incremental adjustments to how you manage and strategize, no matter how clever, are not up to the job. You need something very new to stay ahead in an age of tumultuous change and growing uncertainties. The solution is not to trash what we know and start over but instead to reintroduce, in an organic way, a second system – one which would be familiar to most successful entrepreneurs. The new system adds needed agility and speed while the old one, which keeps running, provides reliability and efficiency….The situation will no longer be improved by tweaking the usual methodology or adding turbochargers to a single hierarchical system. That's like trying to strap a rocket engine onto an elephant so that it can move faster.”
Professor Kotter explains that a new agile system would work as a secondary track alongside the current hierarchical one, constituting a dual system. The new system should have a culture of responsiveness, adaptivity, and innovation. It should mobilize the individuals within it to become “Change Agents” who pursue what they envision to be the “Big Opportunities”. Kotter further outlines the fundamental shift in how leadership should be defined within this new system: “Leadership is the central force mobilizing people to create something that did not previously exist”.
Consequently the proposed program, LED accelerator, is the dual system ideal being outlined by Professor Kotter. In turn, LED accelerator will pull U.S. education into the 21st century by empowering America's most intellectually gifted young individuals.
The need for such a dual system in education has not been apparent because the vast majority of students are comfortable with the existing hierarchical system. The students with a higher level of strength have additional opportunities within a variety of programs presently available. The students with a higher IQ have additional opportunities within a variety of programs presently available. All students can be very talented, creative and have the potential to accomplish almost any level of financial and professional success. But few of those students have the potential to create breakthrough innovation that will alter industry.
It is critical to note that LED accelerator is not for average students or even the strongest or smartest students. LED accelerator is focused on empowering those individuals who have the skill set to create breakthrough innovation. It is for those young individuals whose minds are most versatile and adaptable to change. F. Scott Fitzgerald, one of the greatest writers of the 20th century, said this about such an individual: “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function”.
An individual who is able to hold opposing, complex ideas of non-traditional thought at the same time possesses the ability of dual paradigm diversity, or Dual-Process Cognition, as is understood within the field of Psychology. Those individuals can use the tools that exist in their current world to work on creating the products and services they intuitively see existing in the future. Steve Jobs, for instance, functioned with dual-process cognition. He envisioned many products and services decades in advance, before the technological tools were available to create them. That is why he was able to radically change multiple industries. But his early path to this outcome happened in spite of the education system. Although he had immense potential, the geographical resources, relationships, and access to technology available to him outside of the school system were crucial in developing his skills.
In contrast, LED accelerator will continually assess all young individuals for dual-process cognition and provide the resources to develop their intuitive vision and skills. This process would increase the pool of candidates who have the most potential to create breakthrough innovation.
Currently, the education system constrains gifted adolescents before they can start learning how to innovate. This is counter-productive because adolescent brain wiring is heavily influenced by cognitive and behavioral experiences. Neuropsychology shows that adolescents build associative connections between signals that are experienced simultaneously. The principle underlying all of this associative learning is: 'What fires together wires together.' Therefore, early exposure to the LED accelerator experience is critical to maximizing the inherent innovative potential of adolescent Change Agents.
Hierarchical System Aversion
Unfortunately, the current educational system is not simply neglecting students with dual-process cognition; it is actively stifling their young minds. Only about 1% of young individuals may be capable of dual-process cognition, many of them are quiet introverts. But as Stephen Hawking noted; “Quiet people have the loudest minds.” These young individuals have an inherent aversion to hierarchical systems. At best they view school as unreceptive to their needs and abilities. At worst they are repulsed by it.
The following is a comment from Albert Einstein on his school experience:
"One had to cram all this stuff into one's mind for the examinations, whether one liked it or not. This coercion had such a deterring effect on me that, after I had passed the final examination, I found the consideration of any scientific problems distasteful to me for an entire year."
Ruminating on his early school experience, Steve Jobs remarked:
“I was kind of bored for the first few years, so I occupied myself by getting into trouble… I encountered authority of a different kind than I had ever encountered before, and I did not like it. And they really almost got me. They came close to really beating any curiosity out of me….. The school was at fault for trying to make me memorize stupid stuff rather than stimulating me.”
Today, the same types of young individuals also perceive hierarchical education as punishment. The solution in modern education has been special programs which offer 'gifted' students the choice to take more advanced classes (which just end up cramming them with more data at an intensified rate within the same hierarchical system), and/or to schedule a few hours a week for these students to collaborate with each other on stimulating projects of their choice. But for students like Jobs, the result is not unlike an outside scheduled break time in a prison yard.
The unfortunate situation is such that the young individuals who could help future U.S. industry the most become avers to hierarchical education and associate that negative experience with organized systems as a whole. Instead, those same young individuals should be guided to understand and work productively within organized systems. LED accelerator is needed to bridge their strong disposition for change with the experience of working in an organized system that empowers them to adapt that change. Then as adults, these individuals will feel comfortable leading within government and industry.
Universal Vision For Education
All sustainable companies and organizations have a vision statement, which guides policy and actions. That statement tells the world the reason why that organization must exist. That vision then guides and transforms strategy for how the organization should function. In turn, that strategy gives specific direction to what the organization should execute.
In contrast, unsustainable organizations are unsuccessful because they implement this process completely backward. They start with what they can do, followed by trying to figure out how they can do it. That type of organization never even approaches the reason why they need to exist. U.S. Education functions with this inverted process, which facilitates the creation of the wrong programs, despite the best intentions of educators. Then billions of dollars a year are spent within education to become efficient at doing the wrong things. Peter Drucker, the iconic business author and consultant had this to say about such organizations: “There is nothing more wasteful than becoming highly efficient at doing the wrong thing.”
Consequently, a vision statement is needed to change this process and transform U.S. Education into a sustainable organization. But something as impactful and important as education cannot have a trivial vision. First, a vision for education must be supported by principles through which the economy and society function. Second, to achieve the significance of being a Universal Vision, it must also be supported by broader philosophical and scientific principles found at all levels of nature.
A Universal Vision for education will be set forth in this analysis. The two main principles of the Universal Vision outlined in the sections below are: 'creating new information' and 'challenges for self-growth'. The Universal Vision statement and the philosophical and scientific principles supporting it follow this.
Creating New Information
Economics is not about supply, demand, or even incentives. Rather it's about entrance of discovery and innovation, i.e. new information, which totally alters how we do things. An information system is what powers the economy. This is the view of George Gilder, a renowned economist and author of fifteen books, including Knowledge and Power: The Information Theory of Capitalism and How it is revolutionizing our World. Regarding entrepreneurs creating information where none existed before, Gilder writes: “Wealth is essentially the accumulation of knowledge….You know, we have the same material resources that the cave man, the Neanderthals in their caves had the same natural resources that we have today. The difference is the knowledge that's accumulated….All economic growth ultimately stems from innovations. …Innovation is always a product of individual innovators, a rare dynamic breed not always appealing to the millions who depend on their creativity for their comfort, health, and security.”
Within information theory, the first system transmits new (high) information with accuracy and speed and the second system is a stable low information hierarchical carrier. In the case of economics, creating new information is the condition of entrepreneurs while predictable government, the stable rule of law, property rights, and traditional morality are the conditions of a low hierarchical carrier. Both of these conditions are necessary for optimal results. This dual system facilitates how the ecosystem of society develops, grows, and moves forward. Likewise, the dual system of LED accelerator facilitates how the ecosystem of education develops, grows and moves forward.
Challenges For Self-Growth
The conditions for the ideal sense of accomplishment are ones that provide a sense of discovery, a creative feeling which transports the person into a new reality. This is the view of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Professor of Psychology at Claremont Graduate University, and author of Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. Mihaly's conclusions have led him to believe that people are happiest when they are stretching themselves to achieve something: “We have all experienced times when, instead of being buffeted by anonymous forces, we do feel in control of our actions, masters of our own fate. On the rare occasions that it happens, we feel a sense of exhilaration, a deep sense of enjoyment that is long cherished and that becomes a landmark in memory for what life should be like...moments like these are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times…the best moments usually occur when a person's body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.”
Thus, a person challenging him or herself is what achieves a sense of self-growth. These conditions also push the person into higher levels of performance. In turn that means that the activity needs to expand and become more complex so that it continues to provide the growth and challenge which make it meaningful.
The Universal Vision
U.S. Education develops platforms that enable and challenge students
to create new information for the purpose of self-growth.
This vision is a process. As Edwards Deming, founder of the Deming Institute, said: “If you can't describe what you are doing as a process then you don't know what you are doing”. In this process, challenging oneself is the only way to create new information in the form of experiences, accomplishments, and innovation. In turn, the new information created by this process is the only way to achieve self-growth. Consequently, the Universal Vision for U.S. Education is a process that students need to engage in to achieve the outcome of personal and professional success.
Philosophical & Scientific Support For the Universal Vision
The questions and answers below outline support for the Universal Vision from all levels of nature.
On the universal level, is there a comprehensive drive for information to advance toward higher states?
• “Although we can't explain it, nor simulate it in the laboratory, greater complexity as we come toward the present seems to be what happens."
Eugene Chudnovsky, Professor of Physics at Herbert H. Lehman College.
• Physicists now understand matter to be not just energy but also information. Therefore the cosmos is not just advancing toward a greater complexity of energy but also to higher states of information. Since fundamental physics is applicable everywhere, independent of size, the higher states of information achieved in the microcosm system of constantly moving particles/atoms/molecules within a cell is a mirrored in the macrocosm system of constantly moving planets/solar systems/galaxies within a cosmos cell. In turn that becomes a microcosm within the larger multiverse system.
On a global level, is there a specific drive for information to advance toward higher states at an accelerated rate?
• “The notion that not only the biopolymer but the operating program of a living cell could be arrived at by chance in a primordial organic soup here on the Earth is evidently nonsense of a high order.”
Fred Hoyle, iconic physicist of the 20th century.
• There are about 2000 enzymes on Earth. The chance of obtaining them all in a random trial is an outrageously small probability even if the rest of the cosmos consisted of (which it does not) an “organic soup”. While the cosmos, as a whole, is still slowly advancing toward higher states of information, the Earth specifically is advancing at an accelerated rate. Information theory would indicate that Earth is adaptive and functions within an dual system, identical to how adaptive LED accelerators and entrepreneurial companies function within their dual systems. In this case, Earth is the first system that transmits new (high) information with speed within the second system of a stable low information hierarchical cosmos carrier.
On the national level, is the culture of America to pursue and overcome challenges?
“Americans never quit.”
• Americans have a history of facing and overcoming challenges. From the challenges of the first pilgrim settlers surviving, to the challenges of taming the wild west, to the challenges of leading the world in championing democracy.
On the individual level, is it the strongest or the most intelligent humans that have the decisive ability for self-growth and prosperity?
• “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change”.
• Individuals can best achieve self-growth and prosperity in the form of personal and professional success when they are most responsive to change.
Analysis has shown an objective and moral prerogative to have LED accelerator empower the gifted individuals within U.S. Education. Additionally, analysis has shown the need for a Universal Vision and its significance in transforming the entire education system as a whole. Combined, LED accelerator along with the Universal Vision will enable future U.S. education, industry, and government to advance at an accelerated rate, extending their leadership within the 21st century on the world stage.