I just finished reading David Thornburg’s The New Basics Education and the Future of Work in the Telematic Age for the second or third time. The first, as a grad student at NC State University, I really did not understand, nor care about what he talked about. I just focused on receiving my Masters’ in less than two years, which I did. I quickly sold my used book, and went my own way. Since then, of course, I turned into this mega-open source educator, and received a free copy, autographed, during NECC in San Antonio two years ago. This blog actually began with my attending two of his sessions. This go around, I thoroughly appreciated the entire book, and built up some faith in my vision of the future of education.
Thornburg, an educational futurist, may have the pulse of the future of education much better than all other futurists. Since the 90s, he discussed the move toward open standards, open source, and how we can get out of recessions such as the one we face today. His book, published in 2002, seems like a long time ago, but he really understood then and now much of the cycles of technology and education. For instance, his whole take on unemployment. I become so frustrated with our media and government when they focus so much on unemployment rates. We continue to try and keep our antiquated textile and manufacturing mills going, instead of cutting our losses, spending some money for education, and ‘re-employing’ our unemployed.
David, a dual citizen of the US and Brazil, also shares the spirit for Linux as I. In Brazil, he has shared, the schools rely on Linux and provide copies of all the applications used on ‘cd vending machines’ as a school fundraiser. He discusses in the book positive feedback loops, of which Linux is. He discusses how developers are also users, so they continue to improve the software and applications, not allowing it to become buggy like proprietary software. It also allows us to tinker on it ourselves. A huge reason why I love Linux. I love the possibility of using a dock, similar to Mac OS, while also using the functionality of Windows. I can make my machine look exactly like either, without substituting the safety/security of it, like a Windows machines. I can also develop a netbook OS (our FCSbuntu) modeled on another one, but finetuned for our situation. Can you do that with Mac and Windows?
So much wisdom in this book, even after 7+ years. I can definitely imagine I will take a look at it again in a few years, and much of it will still resonate with my beliefs and current philosophies.