How can the music industry inform the system of K-12 education? | John Hardin

How can the music industry inform the system of K-12 education? | John Hardin

October 5, 2019 29 By Ronny Jaskolski


As we think about how do we transform education
in a way that is going to enable every kid to realize their full potential I think there’s
actually a lot that we can learn from the music industry. If you’re in the early twentieth century
and there’s a song that you want to hear your best bet is to turn on the radio and
listen to the radio and hope that your song comes on. Now you have some choice in the different
stations but for the most part there’s not a lot of optionality there and you’re just
hoping your song comes because music was bundled together in this sort of singular distribution
system. That changed in the 1940s because RCA created
something called the 45. And you could now buy a 45 and get the song
that you wanted to hear on the A side. The B side was probably not a very good song
but you could get what you wanted to hear on the A side because music was now being
unbundled. They were taking this structure and pulling
apart into its individual parts. But then the record companies began to really
focus on producing LPs or long playing albums. So again they’re bundling music together. You can still get the song you want but you’re
probably going to get 12 or 15 other songs. The compact disc industry is built on that. And then along come mp3s and music is unbundled
again. Now you can get the specific song that you
want to hear. And then music service providers come along
and they bundle music together in new and different ways so that you can get the song
you want and it’s also probably going to be paired with other songs that you would
really like and enjoy. So what in the world does that have to do
with education? Well, as you look across our society you can
see how innovation and progress whether it’s in music or news or television or even work. These changes take place in this cycle of
bundling and unbundling. And yet that hasn’t happened in education. In the late nineteenth century we basically
bundled education together in this singular distribution system that we all know as sort
of school and going to school and that’s the way we learn. So the challenge for us now is how do we encourage,
how do we equip educators to unbundle it. To rebundle it in different ways. To take new approaches so that education isn’t
just something that you’re doing in the classroom. It may not happen in the classroom. It could happen anywhere. That’s the thing. It’s like this whole sort of wild, wild
west of opportunities. What we’re doing is we are reforming on
the edges of a system that was really introduced in the late nineteenth century that remains
very sort of producer top down oriented as opposed to very individual kid personalized
oriented. And so what we’re doing is inviting people
to consider that question. What would it take? What does it look like for us to begin with
the kids themselves. So I think it’s interesting to look at this
on sort of the backdrop of an important transition that happened in the twentieth century in
America. If you step into the twentieth century in
1900 in the United States you are stepping into a producer oriented society. And what I mean by that is that the producers
were creating the goods, the services in the institutions based primarily on their preferences. So you take the Ford automotive company. Henry Ford is attributed with saying you can
have any color Model T you want as long as it’s black. Or if you wanted a Coca Cola it comes in one
size and it comes in one flavor. So there wasn’t a lot of meaningful choice
available. But what if you wanted a red Model T or you
wanted a sports car or you wanted a truck or you wanted a big Coke or a tiny Coke or
you want a Coke Zero or a Diet Coke or a Cherry Coke. Those options are now available because we
had this transition in the twentieth century from a producer orientation more to an individual
or personalized orientation. And that’s a big deal because what that
does for all of us is it opens up all of these opportunities for us to find greater fulfillment. Because now you can get what best fits you,
not what best fits Henry Ford or whomever it was that produced it. And you see that across the twentieth century
across the United States in many different sectors of society. Where you don’t really see it is in education. Education today remains a producer oriented
institution. We take kids who are all phenomenally different
in their interests, their aptitudes, their skills and we press them into a uniform system
that is not personalized toward them but is more producer focused, producer oriented. And what’s the result? Well Gallup did a study and found that 25
percent of fifth graders are disinterested in education. By the time students are in twelfth grade
they found two-thirds of them are disinterested in education. And you can’t really blame them because
education is not being personalized to them. It’s not relevant to them. They don’t see the connection. They don’t see how it’s valuable. What does this mean for me? And so at Stay Together what we’re doing
is we’re working to bring folks together around this question of how is it that we
can bring about that transition in education. That transition that we’ve seen across our
society where we are going to focus more on the kid who is standing in front of that teacher,
sitting in front of that teacher instead of the formula or the system that’s being pressed
down by the producer.