The paper "Adapting Technology Learning towards Social Inclusion" is a wonderful example of a report on education. A human stuffed with unused knowledge is an unfulfilled, tentative kind of being – somewhat like a perpetually pregnant organism that never gives birth. A society loaded with the knowledge that is not used is similarly vulnerable; it is a society in paralysis, drifting towards extinction. History describes many initially vigorous societies and cultures fading into oblivion. We have a new buzzword, conveniently pilfered from the inevitable degradation, without constant inputs of energy, of the organized system towards a state of inert uniformity.
Many technological solutions to crucial problems of deprived children are known, but few are accepted and applied because of misunderstanding, distrust, and political fear. Bridging the gap between “ technologists” and “ sociologists” is an imperative policy if the present paralysis is using ‘ learning’ is to be overcome. The energy/entropy combination is a simple and a compelling concept. Simple and compelling enough, in fact, to subsidize a best seller or two. But the learning explosion of the past century has vastly complicated the equation.
The energy inputs needed to sustain society – the knowledge nutrients (or learning environment) required for societal metabolism and behaviour – have become bewilderingly rich and complex, offering gastronomic choices that can kill as well as cure. Science and technology furnish the bulk of shelf items in today’ s burgeoning knowledge supermarket. As the industrial revolution added complexity to our Western World, it also intensified the need for more and more specialized learning for all “ nutrients” to sustain. Since mid-century, the dependency of industrial society doses of essential learning became disturbingly apparent as its increasing inability to receive and act on crucial information led to visible and often shocking deterioration. It would take hundreds of pages today’ s societal pathology, but just a few well-known symptoms suggest its status: environmental pollution, effluent waste, proliferation in crime, dissolution of family structure and loyalties, economic paralysis in major cities, san almost rhapsodic diversion of public monies into monumental piles of military hardware, increasing dependency on debilitating narcotics, and so on.
The list seems endless. But here in this paper, we consider in the learning environment all children have the right to education, whether they are disabled, living roughly, underprivileged, gypsies, and children in the care system. Contemporary education systems suggest one way to deal with societal pathology.
The exemplary policy applied right from the start, they suggest, probably would have prevented this alarming condition. But now that we are really and truly sick and don’ t quite know why, surely we have something in our therapeutic black bag, this technological box of tricks, to treat the symptoms. Alvin Weinberg appropriately calls a sick society’ s need for doses of emergency learning its need for a “ technological fix” .
Somewhere in our scientific arsenal, he suggests, exist information and technique for treating and subduing the symptoms. But certainly, the thoughtful Dr. Weinberg will admit there is always the danger that, like methadone of addicts, the cure could yield results worse than the disease. Quite clearly the emergency use of technological “ learning for all” requires unusual foresight and considerable sensitivity in the application.