When Marty McFly and Dr. Emmett Brown traveled from 1985 to 2015, they entered into a utopia of hoverboards and sleek “vidglasses.” In the real 2022, we are lightyears away from the idealized time portrayed in Back to the Future. The collective inspiration of the moon landing and the thrill of scientific discovery has fizzled out. To fix this, we must go to the source: schools.
“Modern” schooling forgoes encouraging and fostering technological innovation or knowledge in their students, instead focusing the production of “individual truths” and “self-care.” Understandably then, we seem to have hit a plateau of advancement trends. Core tenets of exploration and creativity have been discarded, and “individualism” now only means a disregard for societal norms or consequences.
If the next generation continues on their path, we will never evolve past our current obsession with minimal risk and maximum comfort. The concept of a technologically and socially advanced future will be dead on arrival.
The founder of Tesla and SpaceX, Elon Musk, has turned his sights on education and has found a possible solution to the bleak promise of a stagnant society. The formation of the Astra Nova School, where the sky is quite literally not the limit, is a beacon of hope for concerned stakeholders of education. Schools like Musk’s, dedicated to embracing critical thinking and learning, will likely produce the leaders of the next technological revolution and shape the future. This is what we need.
The school describes its educational beliefs on its website:
“We make progress by challenging ourselves to be maniacally creative; we design each year anew. And we focus our energy on what really matters to the development of our students: their disposition towards learning and complexity, their ability to work effectively in a team, and their capacity to make ethical decisions. Every class and experience starts with these principles.”
A popular phrase in the education sphere is “teach kids how to think, not what to think.” While overused, it remains more relevant than ever. Lessons teaching valuable reasoning skills are in decline, and teachers focused on comfort rather than advancement have become a malignant tumor on the U.S. education system.
In order to combat the onslaught of kids coming into adulthood without the drive or motivation to explore and innovate, we must rapidly reform our current schools, or pioneer new ones altogether.