On September 12, 2012, the DC Supper Club reconvened and discussed “The Future of Education.” Education is always a timely topic and never seems to leave the headlines; especially in this case, as the Chicago, Illinois school district is currently striking over many of the issues that were discussed during the dinner. The group was made up of professionals from the DC area and included two administrators from DC, and others who had recently finished their professional educations, or had worked in education administration.
In discussing Possibility A&B there was a sense that somehow our society has put too much emphasis on specialization in the workplace and education, which has led to a populace that is ill equipped to cope with globalization. Concerns were expressed about limiting ones prospects based upon being required to choose career tracks based upon race and class. In addition, there were concerns that the population as a whole would lose the pursuit of life long learning and only focus on what one needed to know to perform their job. With regard to a service oriented approach to our educational system, participants made it clear that no one should be forced to learn based on values as determined by the state, and that in a capitalist society education based upon emphasizing the social good would be difficult.
In discussing Possibility C, the general feedback was that these approaches would be exclusionary and impractical. Socially this system would relegate large classes of people to mediocrity and be untenable in the long run due to the associated costs. Moving to Possibility D, there was much support for a holistic mentor based approach. For example, it was noted that many poor students in certain parts of the District have not visited many of the national institutions and monuments that may only be miles from their homes. Using a mentor based educational system would allow individuals to gain greater exposure to the world around them, interact with individuals who could impart valuable life skills, and make valuable social and business contacts. The concept of life-long learning was again stressed, as a source of learning and giving back. When discussing Possibility E, there was support for considering local needs when developing an educational system; however, concerns were raised about to what extent this should be stressed in the educational system. Most participants agreed that it was the role of individuals to address local issues on their own.