Activity 7

Education and the Knowledge Age

Finally, we would like you to think about ways in which our educational aims might change in the future. According to Trilling and Hood (Trilling and Hood, 2001, pages 9-11), there are four functions of education:

  • Its contribution to society
  • Its fulfilment of personal talents
  • Its fulfilment of civic responsibilities
  • Its carrying forward of tradition.

Trilling, B. and Hood, P. (2001) Learning, Technology, and Education Reform in the Knowledge Age or 'We're Wired, Webbed, and Windowed, Now What? in Paechter, C., Edwards, R. Harrison, R. and Twining, P. (editors) Learning, Space and Identity, London: Paul Chapman Publishing Ltd.

What Trilling and Hood also say is that, in Western societies, the move from the Industrial to Knowledge Age has meant that "our response to each of these goals shifts dramatically and brand new sets of demands appear, challenging our entire educational enterprise" (page 11).

They base their analysis on an account of history passing through a series of ‘ages'. Whereas wealth arose from the ownership of land during the Agricultural Age, it is the ownership of factories and capital which generates wealth during the Industrial Age.

In the Knowledge Age, they argue that wealth is being created through the ownership of knowledge and through an improvement in the quality of goods and services which is based on that knowledge. According to Andrews (2007), during the Knowledge Age, 2% of the working population will work on the land, 10% will work in Industry and the rest will be Knowledge Workers (Andrews 2007).

REFLECT: To what extent do you think the Knowledge Age might be developing in the country where you teach?

WRITE: Write about ways in which entering the Knowledge Age could modify the aims of education. How relevant might the four functions of education, identified above by Trilling and Hood, be to the development of the Knowledge Age in your own country?

(Allow 35 minutes)