I’d like to propose a game or exercise. It can be played in person or online, including in comments added to this very blog post.
I must study Politicks and War that my sons may have liberty to study Painting and Poetry Mathematicks and Philosophy. My sons ought to study Mathematicks and Philosophy, Geography, natural History, Naval Architecture, navigation, Commerce and Agriculture, in order to give their Children a right to study Painting, Poetry, Musick, Architecture, Statuary, Tapestry and Porcelaine.
How might that statement change in 2018?
Adding women, of course. Some might update the spelling. The bigger challenge is thinking about today’s curricula. What is our equivalent of studying politics and war? Perhaps learning business and coding.
Consider, too, what we forecast to change over the next 50 years (approximating the quote’s two generations: “my sons” and “their Children”). If today’s Adams must study business and coding, should their children learn, say, information management (to get a job wrangling automation) and Chinese (to speak with the world’s next superpower)? And then their children – do they turn to the humanities and arts, like Adamses 3.0? If so, which humanities and arts?
The advanced version of this exercise situates the speaker in a certain context. You might not be in a position like John and Abigail Adams in late 18th-century America. What’s the updated quote for a Latinx adult learner in the US, as opposed to an eighteen-year-old male Briton, or a female war veteran?
An alternative version of this game reverses course. We start with previous players’ answers, then analyze them to determine their assumptions about education, work, politics, and culture.
Who wants to take the first turn?
(thanks to Mike Sellers for support and for hashing out the idea)