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brainroads-toward-tomorrows mental patterns


pyramid to dna

The New Realities

by Peter Drucker — his other books

The New Realities

Amazon link: The New Realities




#Note the number of books about Drucker ↓


Inside Drucker's Brain World According to Drucker

My life as a knowledge worker

Drucker: a political or social ecologist ↑ ↓


“I am not a ‘theoretician’;

through my consulting practice

I am in daily touch with

the concrete opportunities and problems

of a fairly large number of institutions,

foremost among them businesses

but also hospitals, government agencies

and public-service institutions

such as museums and universities.


And I am working with such institutions

on several continents:

North America, including Canada and Mexico;

Latin America; Europe;

Japan and South East Asia.


Still, a consultant is at one remove

from the day-today practice —

that is both his strength

and his weakness.

And so my viewpoint

tends more to be that of an outsider.”

broad worldview ↑ ↓


Most mistakes in thinking ↑seeing only part of the picture


#pdw larger ↑ ::: Books by Peter Drucker ::: Rick Warren + Drucker

Peter Drucker's work

Books by Bob Buford and Walter Wriston

Global Peter Drucker Forum ::: Charles Handy — Starting small fires

Post-capitalist executive ↑ T. George Harris


harvest and implement

Learning to Learn (ecological awareness ::: operacy)

The MEMO “they” don’t want you to SEE





This book is not about “things to come.”

It is not about the “next century.”

Its thesis is that the “next century” is already here, indeed that we are well advanced into it.

We do not know the answers.

But we do know the issues.

The courses of action open to us can be discerned.

And so can those which, however popular, will be futile, if not counterproductive.

The realities are different from the issues on which politicians, economists, scholars, businessmen, union leaders still fix their attention, still write books, still make speeches.

The convincing proof of this is the profound sense of unreality that characterizes so much of today’s politics and economics.

And thus, while this book is not “futurism,” it attempts to define the concerns, the issues, the controversies that will be realities for years to come.


Some of the toughest problems we face are those created by the successes of the past—the success of the welfare state, for example; the success of this century’s invention of the fiscal state; the success of the knowledge society.

Some of the greatest impediments to effectiveness are the slogans, the commitments, the issues of yesterday, which still dominate public discourse, still confine our vision.

Also, some half-forgotten lessons of the past are becoming relevant again.

The nineteenth-century experiences of Austria-Hungary and of the British in India with the impact of economic development on nationalism and colonialism mean a great deal for the future of the Russian Empire, for instance.

This explains why a good deal of history is included.


This is an ambitious book that casts its net over a wide range of subjects.

Written in the United States by an American, it does not confine itself to American topics; it deals fully as much with government, society, and economy in Japan, in Western Europe, in Russia, and in the Third World of developing countries.

Yet the book may also be faulted for not being ambitious enough.

The impacts of technology on arms and defense; on the function and limits of government; on schools and learning are frequently discussed.

No chapter as such is however devoted to technology per se.

This subject, I felt, is abundantly discussed in a spate of works.

While highly important, technology is hardly “news” any more.


An even greater limitation: this book deals with the “surface,” the “social super-structure”—politics and government, society, economy and economics, social organization and education.

The foundations—world view and values and the shifts in both—are mentioned often, but are discussed only in a few short pages at the very end.

And there is no discussion of the spiritual agonies and moral horrors: the tyranny and brutal lust for power; the terror and cruelty; the naked cynicism, that have engulfed the world since the West’s descent into World War I. For this I lack both authority and competence.


This book does not focus on what to do tomorrow.

It focuses on what to do today in contemplation of tomorrow.

Within self-imposed limitations, it attempts to set the agenda.




  • The realities
    • “Next century” is already here
      • Well advanced into it
    • Are different
      • Power centers
      • Proof
    • The toughest problems we face
      • Problems created by the successes of the past
    • Half-forgotten lessons of the past becoming relevant again
      • 19th Century experiences
  • This book
    • Attempts to define … that will be realities for years to come
      • Concerns
      • Issues
      • Controversies
    • Focuses on what to do today
      • In contemplation of tomorrow
    • Attempts to set the agenda
    • Faulted for …
  • Political realities
    • The divide
      • Political terra incognita with few familiar landmarks to guide us
      • The (1965-)1973 divide
        • Entered “the next century”
        • Non-events
        • Political slogans
    • Organizing political principles
      • No more salvation by society
      • The end of FDR's America
      • Government
      • The Change in politics
    • When the Russian Empire is gone
      • The Last Colonial Power
      • The completion of the shift from “European” history to “world” history
      • What it means for the United States
      • North America as a New U.S. Concern
    • Now that arms are counterproductive
      • Arms race
      • Arms
      • Army No More School of the Nation
      • Military Aid and Political Malperformance
      • Cutting arms is not enough
      • What is required
        • Something far more difficult than disarmament
        • Reaffirmation of the role and importance of defense in the world’s political system
        • Reaffirmation of the governmental monopoly on arms of destruction
        • A return to defense and arms as the tools rather than the masters of policy
        • Rethinking the entire role and function of
        • A repositioning of the military in the body politic
        • First economic priority
  • Government and political process
    • Government
      • Not the only power center
      • From omnipotent government to privatization
      • What can governments do?
      • The limits of the fiscal state
    • Society and polity has become pluralist
      • Developed non-Communist countries
      • Each
        • New and unprecedented way
        • Different way
      • Both are now full of power centers
      • Pose major challenges to
      • New pluralism of society
      • New pluralism of the polity
    • The changed demands of political leadership
      • Recent campaigns
      • None of the traditional… fit the new political realities
      • Forces politics and politicians to be “dull”
      • Public distrust of traditional leaders
      • Political motto for the new political realities: “Beware Charisma!”
      • Competent leaders vastly preferable
      • Tremendous political tasks ahead
  • Economy, ecology, and economics
    • Transnational economy
      • The main features, challenges, opportunities
      • Manufacturing is increasingly becoming uncoupled from labor
      • The raw material economy and the industrial economy have become “uncoupled”
      • The economy is becoming less material-intensive
      • From international to transnational
      • No more superpower (Countries or companies)
      • Adversarial trade and reciprocity
      • Protecting the transnational economy
    • Transnational ecology
      • The endangered habitat of the human race
      • The crucial environmental needs
    • Economic development
      • The successes
      • The Dismal Failures
      • The Policies That Worked
      • The end of the development promise
    • Economics
      • Many policies of post WW II have not worked
      • Great progress & productivity
      • Need a new synthesis that simplifies
  • The new knowledge society
    • The post-business (knowledge) society
      • Shift to the knowledge society
      • Shift to the post-business society
      • Management
      • Business
      • Schools of business of management
      • Knowledge workers and business
      • University diploma
      • Workers without college credentials
    • Two countercultures
      • “Countercultures”
      • American labor force
      • Labor union
    • The information-based organization
      • Typical large organization
        • Large business or government agency
        • 20 years hence
          • 1/2 the levels of management
          • 1/3 the numbers of managers
          • Bear little resemblance to the typical manufacturing company, circa 1950
          • It will be information-based
          • Have little choice but to become information based
    • Management as social function and liberal art
      • Mis-managers
        • Ill-prepared tremendous challenges that now confront them
      • Management …
        • A new institution
        • The tremendous challenges that now confront managers
        • Origins & development
        • The new social function - World wide
        • Now embraces entrepreneurship
        • Legitimacy of management
        • What is management?
        • As a liberal art
    • The shifting knowledge base
      • Educational Responsibilities
      • The American School and Its Priorities
      • Learning how to learn
      • Educated person
      • From teaching to learning
      • The New Leaning Technology
      • What is knowledge?
  • Conclusion: New world view: From analysis to perception
    • The mechanical universe
    • A new age is born—A new basic civilization came into being
    • The social impacts of information
    • Organization form and function. Form and Function Connections: see chapters On Being the Right Size and On Being the Wrong Size in Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices and others.
    • From analysis to perception





16. The Shifting Knowledge Base

Within the next decades education will change more than it has changed since the modern school was created by the printed book over three hundred years ago.

  • Educational Responsibilities

  • The American School and Its Priorities

  • Learning How to Learn

  • Education as Social Purpose

  • The New Requirements

  • The Educated Person

  • From Teaching to Learning

  • The New Learning Technology

  • What Is Knowledge?

  • An economy in which knowledge is becoming the true capital and the premier wealth-producing resource makes new and stringent demands on the schools for educational performance and educational responsibility.

    A society dominated by knowledge workers makes even newer — and even more stringent — demands for social performance and social responsibility.

    Once again we will have to think through what an educated person is.

    At the same time, how we learn and how we teach are changing drastically and fast — the result, in part, of new theoretical understanding of the learning process, in part of new technology.

    Finally, many of the traditional disciplines of the schools are becoming sterile, if not obsolescent.

    We thus also face changes in what we learn and teach and, indeed, in what we mean by knowledge.


    Educational Responsibilities

    Since school learning and school diplomas increasingly control access to jobs, livelihoods, and careers in the knowledge society, all members of society need to be literate.

    And not only in “reading, writing, and arithmetic.”

    Literacy now includes elementary computer skills.

    It requires a considerable understanding of technology, [Technology, Management and Society] its dimensions, its characteristics, its rhythms — something almost totally absent today in any country.

    It requires considerable knowledge of a complex world in which boundaries of town, nation, and country no longer define one’s horizons.

    For this reason, knowledge of one’s roots and community is however also becoming more important.

    The new media provide quite a bit of this new literacy.

    For today’s small child, the television set and the video cassette recorder surely provide as much information as does the school — in fact probably more.

    But only through the school — through organized, systematic, purposeful learning — can this information be converted into knowledge and become the individual’s possession and tool.

    The knowledge society also requires that all its members learn how to learn.

    It is of the very nature of knowledge that it changes fast.

    Manual skills change very slowly.

    Socrates the stonemason — the trade in which he made his living — would be at home in a modern mason’s yard.

    But Socrates the philosopher would be totally baffled by both the concerns and the tools of such key disciplines of modern philosophy as symbolic logic or linguistics.

    Engineers ten years out of school are already “obsolescent” if they have not refreshed their knowledge again and again.

    And so are the physician, lawyer, teacher, geologist, manager, and computer programmer.

    Furthermore, there is an infinity of knowledge careers to choose from.

    There is no way in which even the best school system with the longest years of schooling can possibly prepare students for all these choices.

    All it can do is to prepare them to learn.

    The post-business, knowledge society is a society of continuing learning and second careers.


    The American School and Its Priorities

    Plenty of school systems around the world provide universal literacy (although so far only in its traditional form): all of Northern and Western Europe, Japan, Korea.

    Not so long ago — until 1960 — so did the American school.

    It no longer does.

    Whatever the reason — and a major one is surely that it subordinated its teaching mission to other socially necessary objectives — the American school has become untrue to its educational responsibility.

    The failure of the American school to deliver universal literacy is America’s real “Rust Belt.”

    It is a far greater weakness than high cost and poor quality in consumer products.

    In the knowledge society, the knowledge base is the foundation of the economy.

    Thirty years ago, in the years after World War II, the American school led.

    Some of the “best” schools in other countries were probably better than the “best” schools of the America of 1960.

    But no other country then had as high a general level.

    Just as American industrial leadership made American manufacturers complacent, however, American educational leadership thirty years ago made American educators complacent.

    To restore the capacity of the American school to provide universal literacy on a high level — well beyond that of the elementary school — will therefore have to be a first priority.

    School and education will be central to American public life and American politics for years to come.

    We actually know pretty much what is required.

    The job is not even so very difficult.

    It is, however, highly political.

    It requires high standards and a good deal of discipline in the schools.

    This will be demanded (it is already being demanded) by parents who are themselves reasonably well educated and have children ready to learn.

    But standards and discipline are being resisted by some parents of the very children who need them most — especially by some of the parents of poor minority children.

    They see in such demands “racism” and “discrimination.”

    This is already happening not only in the United States but at the universities in West Germany where the New Left gained power during the sixties (in Bremen, for example).

    Just as graduates of America’s “problem schools” are shunned by prospective employers, so are the graduates of Germany’s “problem universities.”

    America is the only major developed country in which there is no competition within the school system.

    The French have two parallel systems above the elementary grades, a public and a Catholic one, both paid for by the state.

    So do the Italians.

    Germany has the Gymnasium, the college-preparatory school for a fairly small elite.

    In Japan, schools are graded by the performance of their students on the university entrance exams.

    The teachers of high-ranking schools are recognized, promoted, and paid accordingly.

    The American public school, by contrast, has a near-monopoly — no performance standards and little competition either within the system or from the outside.

    This is already changing.

    In Minnesota — traditionally a pioneer in social innovation — parents can now place their child in any school in the state, with the state reimbursing the school district for any child it admits from outside.

    This is a first step toward a voucher system under which the state pays a child’s tuition to any accredited school the child and its parents choose.

    The public school lobby strongly resists the idea.

    But how long can it prevail?

    By common consent the public schools of Chicago are among the worst in the country.

    Next door to them are the parochial schools of the Chicago Catholic Diocese in which black children from Chicago’s worst slums actually learn successfully.

    These achieving schools are in constant financial danger.

    Yet for black parents in Chicago’s inner city, even the very modest fees they charge impose a real sacrifice.

    Chicago has only two choices: either it issues vouchers which enable Chicago’s blacks to send their children to the schools where they learn something or — and it is already happening — resistance of Chicago’s blacks (and that means of the largest single voting bloc in the city) to school taxes slowly liquidates the city’s public schools.

    Chicago’s whites, rich or poor, have long deserted the city’s public schools.

    They have either moved out into suburbs with decent schools or have put their children into private schools where there are standards, discipline, and learning.

    In Rochester, New York, the American Federation of Teachers negotiated a new contract in 1984 with the city.

    It provides for more money but only for teachers who meet high and rising performance standards.

    It also provides for dismissal of those who do not meet performance standards.

    And wherever we have built discipline, performance standards, and competition into a school it has performed — not miracles, to be sure, but an acceptable quality job of delivering universal literacy.


    Learning How to Learn

    Delivering literacy — even on the high level appropriate to a knowledge society — will be an easier task than giving students the capacity and the knowledge to keep on learning, and the desire to do it.

    No school system has yet tackled that job.

    There is an old Latin tag: Non scholae sed vitae discimus (We don’t learn for school but for life).

    But neither teacher nor student has ever taken it seriously.

    Indeed, except for professional schools — medicine, law, engineering, business — no school to the best of my knowledge has even tried to find out what its students have learned.

    We compile voluminous records of examination results.

    But I know of no school that tests the graduates ten years later on what they still know of the subjects — whether mathematics, a foreign language, or history — in which they got such wonderful marks.

    We do know, however, how people learn how to learn.

    In fact, we have known it for two thousand years.

    The first and wisest writer on raising small children, the great Greek biographer and historian Plutarch, spelled it out in a charming little book, Paidea (Raising Children), in the first century of the Christian era.

    All it requires is to make learners achieve.

    All it requires is to focus on the strengths and talents of learners so that they excel in whatever it is they do well.

    Any teacher of young artists — musicians, actors, painters — knows this.

    So does any teacher of young athletes.

    But schools do not do it.

    They focus instead on a learner’s weaknesses.

    When teachers call in the parents of a ten-year-old, they usually say: “Your Jimmy has to work on the multiplication tables.

    He is way behind.”

    They rarely say: “Your Mary should do a good deal more writing to do even better what she already does well.”

    Teachers — and this goes right through to the university — tend to focus on the weaknesses of students, and for good reasons: no one can predict what a ten-year-old will be doing ten or fifteen years later.

    One cannot even at that stage eliminate many options.

    The school has to endow students with the basic skills they will need whichever way they choose to go.

    They have to be able to function.

    But one cannot build performance on weaknesses, even on corrected ones; one can build performance only on strengths.

    And these the schools traditionally ignore, in fact, consider more or less irrelevant.

    Strengths do not create problems — and schools are problem-focused.

    In the knowledge society, teachers will have to learn to say: 

    “I am going to make your Jimmy, or your Mary, do a great deal more writing.

    The child has talent that needs to be developed and perfected.”

    As will be discussed a little further on, the new technology of teaching will make this possible; indeed, in large measure it will almost demand a focus on strength.

    But the educational system we need will also have to stress the responsibility of knowledge.

    “Knowledge is power” is an old saw — for the first time there is some truth to it.

    The knowledge workers in their entirety will be the “rulers.”

    They will also have to be the “leaders.”

    That requires ethos, values, and morality.

    “Moral education” today has fallen into disrepute.

    Far too often it was abused in order to stifle thinking, discussion, and dissent, and to inculcate blind obedience to authority.

    Far too often in fact it became “immoral education.”

    But every one of the education builders discussed below — from Confucius to Arnold of Rugby — knew that there is no education without moral values.

    To slough off moral values as modern education proposes to do only means that education conveys the wrong values.

    It conveys indifference, irresponsibility, cynicism.

    Precisely what the moral values of education in the knowledge society have to be will be hotly debated.

    But education in moral values, and the commitment to moral values, will be central.

    Knowledge people have to learn to take responsibility.


    Education as Social Purpose

    Most schools these days in developed and developing countries alike teach the same subjects.

    Methods of instruction do not, as a rule, change over centuries.

    But though the schools themselves may look very much the same, the social purpose of education — the society it attempts to shape and the rulers and leaders it aims to form — varies widely.

    The clearest concept of education’s social purpose is also the oldest one: the Chinese ideal of the Confucian scholar and gentleman as the ruler.

    Formulated well before the Christian era and codified no later than the Yang Dynasty of the seventh century A.D., it survived unchanged into recent times.

    Advanced education in Communist China today is still very much Confucian in structure and basic values, even though no longer Confucian in content.

    In the West a similar formulation was not attempted until the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.

    The Jesuits then first saw that the printed book made it possible for them to obtain political and social control of society through a monopoly on advanced education.

    They designed the first modern school to make themselves masters of the high-born and of the learned.

    A little later a Czech, John Amos Comenius — the first person to advocate universal literacy — invented the textbook and the primer.

    These, he hoped, would enable his compatriots to remain Protestants despite political domination by the fiercely Catholic Habsburgs.

    Literacy, Comenius argued, enables people to read the Bible in their homes.

    A substantial minority in Czechoslovakia has indeed remained Protestant to this day.

    In the eighteenth century the entire West accepted that education and schools are major social forces.

    Colonial America, strongly influenced by Comenius, designed its school from the beginning to be the maker of citizens.

    Thomas Jefferson’s educational outline for Virginia — the most comprehensive strategy for education since the Confucians in China — was universal, classless, and yet designed to produce a democratic elite.

    When, in the nineteenth century, immigration swelled to a flood, the American school became the agent of Americanization for the newcomers and the teacher of the American creed.

    It was its success in this role more than any other factor that made us choose it as the agent of racial integration a century later.

    At about the same time the American colonists developed their system of universal education, such a system was also designed in Europe — by the eighteenth-century Emperor Joseph II of Austria.

    Joseph II focused on advanced schooling — the “gymnasium” — as central to his social policy.

    It taught the same subjects as the schools of the Jesuits or the schools of the American colonists.

    But its aims were different.

    Joseph set out to wrest control of education away from the Catholic Church; to make sure that educated people were secular in their orientation and anti-clerical; and to provide social mobility to able young commoners.

    The Austrian gymnasium is one of the success stories of education as a social agent.

    It held Austria together for one hundred fifty years despite increasing nationalist conflicts and tensions.

    Its graduates, even though taught in all the many languages of the empire, held the same values and shared the same ethos.

    They constituted an educated ruling class that worked together across the barriers of language and national origin until the empire collapsed in 1918.

    At about the same time — in the mid-eighteenth century — the Bunjin (i.e., “literati” or humanists) of far-away Japan used education to create a new vision and a new social class.

    They rejected the official hierarchy based on birth, with its three hereditary classes of swordsman (samurai), peasant, and townsman, replacing it with a meritocracy in which nothing counted except performance as a scholar, calligrapher, and artist.

    They thus laid the foundations for modern Japan.

    A hundred years later, in 1867, when the feudal regime of the Tokugawa Shōgun fell and the Meiji Restoration began, every one of the new leaders was a graduate of an academy founded seventy years earlier by such eminent Bunjin as the calligrapher-painters Nukina Kaioku and Rai Sanyo.

    Napoleon I deliberately fashioned educational institutions to create a new and different France.

    He was not even emperor when he founded the grandes éŽcoles as schools for a new elite.

    The Ecole Normale for teachers and the Polytechnique for engineers were to make sure that France could not return to the society and government of pre-Revolutionary days.

    They were to give France a ruling class of high talent — non-aristocratic, anti-clerical, and nationalist.

    To this day the grandes Žécoles form the French ruling elites, and with them the basic values and vision of French government and French society.

    A few years later, but still during the Napoleonic wars, Wilhelm von Humboldt — the Prussian statesman and great scholar who pioneered modern linguistics — founded the first modern university in 1809.

    Designed as an answer to Napoleon, Humboldt’s University of Berlin, like Napoleon’s grandes écoles, was to educate an elite composed of commoners.

    But the purpose was not to prevent a return to the Ancien RŽégime but to enable such a regime to rule over the post-Revolutionary society.

    The task of Humboldt’s university was to give society a sphere of intellectual freedom.

    There would be another sphere of freedom, the market economy.

    Together the two would support an absolute monarchy and enable it to survive.

    This was the Rechtsstaat, the political system in which the “King under the Law” rather than “the people” was to rule.

    In one form or another it survived in Germany until 1918.

    Indeed, it was not truly buried until the coming of the Nazis in 1933.

    The last shaper of modern advanced education was Dr. Thomas Arnold, the famous “Arnold of Rugby.”

    Every earlier system of advanced education — Chinese, American, Austrian, Japanese, French, German — saw the school as the agent of social mobility through which the able and achieving could rise out of the “lower classes” into gentility and social position.

    Arnold’s public school, however, was designed to perpetuate the class system.

    It was a school to educate “gentlemen”; and “gentlemen” are born rather than made by schooling.

    By making the public school a boarding school for the well-born, Arnold made England’s school system a barrier to social mobility.

    It has often been pointed out that by any measurement there was more social mobility in England in the nineteenth century than in any other Western country except the United States.

    Yet England suffers to this day from acute class-consciousness and class feeling.

    For alone among the systems of advanced education, the English school system did not admit, let alone recruit, the able and achieving youngsters of the lower classes for advancement into the leadership groups or at least into social respectability.

    (In Scotland, by contrast, school and university were developed in the eighteenth century to be powerfully effective agents of social mobility.)


    The New Requirements

    There will be — and there should be — serious discussion of the social purpose and responsibility of education in the new reality of the knowledge society.

    This is much too important a decision to be made by acclamation — or by not making it.

    A few key requirements are already clear:

    Education in and for the knowledge society will have a social purpose.

    It will not be value-free; no educational system has ever been.

    The educational system needed must be an open system.

    It must not make into an impenetrable barrier the line between the highly schooled and the “other half.”

    Able and achieving people need to have access to education and, through it, to upward mobility, whatever their origin, wealth, or previous schooling.

    There are some beginnings.

    In Japan, for instance, teachers are expected to look after the promising young people in their class and make sure that they do well enough scholastically to advance from elementary school to middle school, from middle school to high school, and eventually from high school to university.

    Teachers in Japan are as much counselors to the student and to the student’s family as they are teachers in the classroom.

    West Germany has used its traditional apprentice training to create parallel ladders of scholastic advancement.

    One leads from the academically oriented secondary school — the traditional Gymnasium — to the university.

    The other starts with the apprentice program in which the young man or woman works three days a week and goes to school three days a week, thus obtaining both a practical and a theoretical foundation.

    This then enables them to go on to a Fachhochschule and obtain an academic diploma which opens opportunities for advancement, especially in business.

    But the most promising of these approaches so far is the American one.

    In every other educational system, the student has to get the appropriate diploma at the appropriate age — for junior high school or middle school, for high school, or for college.

    In Germany, students can stay at the university for seven or ten years — or forever.

    But unless they enter at age nineteen or twenty, they will rarely get in.

    The same is largely true in Japan, in Great Britain, and in France.

    In the United States, students who dropped out of high school are encouraged to come back and get their high school or college diplomas years later.

    In the traditional system, each school sees itself as terminal.

    Once students have sat through enough semesters, their education is “finished.”

    There is no such thing as a “finished education” in the knowledge society.

    It requires that people with advanced schooling come back to school again and again and again.

    Continuing education, especially of highly schooled people such as physicians, teachers, scientists, managers, engineers, and accountants, is certain to be a major growth industry of the future.

    So far, however, schools and universities, except in the United States and Great Britain to a degree, still view continuing education with grave misgivings if they do not shun it altogether.

    Education can no longer be confined to the schools.

    Every employing institution has to become a teacher.

    Large Japanese employers — government agencies and businesses — already recognize this.

    The country that is again in the lead, however, is the United States, where employers — business, government agencies, the military — spend as much money and effort on the education and training of their employees, and especially the most highly educated ones, as do all the country’s colleges and universities together.

    European transnational companies too are increasingly taking on the continuing education of their employees and especially of managers.

    Finally, it will be the social responsibility of education to prevent “meritocracy” from degenerating into “plutocracy.”

    To make access to good jobs and careers dependent upon the diploma is tolerable only if the diploma is given for talent and diligence rather than for wealth.

    Care must be taken lest the diploma becomes a barrier to ability rather than a recognition thereof.

    It must not become a symbol of “class,” as Dr. Arnold’s public school became in England.

    This threat is already reality in the most “meritocratic” country: Japan.

    The Japanese university charges no or very low tuition; yet increasingly it is the children of the wealthy who get into the prestige universities and thus gain access to the promising careers in both government and industry.

    Young Japanese do not have much chance to pass the university entrance examinations unless they have a room to themselves at home in which to study.

    In a country with crowded housing, only fairly well-to-do people can afford so much space.

    Children of well-to-do-parents and children of parents who themselves have been highly educated will always have an advantage.

    But this advantage must not become an insurmountable obstacle to others.

    One way — in the United States it would be the most effective way — is to make the costs of advanced education repayable out of the graduate’s life earnings.

    No investment in the modern economy pays as well as the advanced degree.

    There is therefore no reason for taxpayers to subsidize students.

    But while they are still students they do not have the money.

    Justice, equity, and economics all demand that they should repay society out of the additional earnings their advanced degree procures for them during their lifetime.


    The Educated Person

    Education fuels the economy.

    It shapes society.

    But it does so through its “product,” the educated person.

    An educated person is equipped both to lead a life and to make a living.

    Socrates and Arnold of Rugby put all their emphasis on the “life,” and dismissed “making a living” as irrelevant if not vulgar.

    But very few people in any society have as few wants as Socrates the philosopher, or were endowed with the rich fathers of Arnold’s “gentlemen.”

    All other educational philosophies always balanced the two.

    So will education in the knowledge society.

    It can afford neither the schooled barbarian who makes a good living but has no life worth living, nor the cultured amateur who lacks commitment and effectiveness.

    In the knowledge society, education will have to transmit “virtue” while teaching the skills of effectiveness.

    At present our educational systems do neither — precisely because we have not asked: What is an educated person in the knowledge society?

    One hears a great many complaints these days, especially in the United States, about the decline if not disappearance of the “humanities.”

    Any number of books bewail the ignorance of the great traditions on which civilization and culture rest.

    These complaints are valid.

    There is danger of producing a society of schooled barbarians.

    But whose fault is it?

    The young these days it is said are not attracted to the “classics”; they are said to be “anti-historical.”

    But they do respond with enthusiasm to history, to the great tradition altogether, if offered to them in a form that makes it relevant to their experiences, their society, their needs.

    Older people, the participants in continuing education, usually cannot get enough of ethics, of history, of great novels, of anything that helps them understand their own experience, the challenges they face in their own life and in their own work.

    And they also crave the fundamentals of science and technology, the ways and values of government and politics; in short, everything that constitutes a broad liberal education.

    But we have to make all this meaningful and to project it on the realities in which people live.

    There is need to make the “humanities” again what they are supposed to be: lights to help us see and guides to right action.

    This is not the job of the student; it has to be the job of the teacher.

    Sixty years ago, in 1927, a French philosopher, Julien Benda, published a slashing attack, La Trahison des clercs (The Betrayal of the Intellectuals) on the scholars and writers of his time who subordinated truth to racial and political dogmas, whether of the right or left.

    Benda’s attack was prophetic, anticipating both the betrayal of the truth by the German intellectuals during the Hitler years and the betrayal of the truth by the fellow travelers and Stalinists in the thirties and for twenty or thirty years after World War II.

    To let the humanities die out of snobbery, disdain, or sloth is equally betrayal.

    The advent of the knowledge society will force us to focus the wisdom and beauty of the past on the needs and ugliness of the present.

    This is what scholars and humanists contribute to the making of a life.

    The key to doing this may be the needs we face in equipping students to make a living.

    For almost nothing in our educational systems prepares them for the reality in which they will live, work, and become effective.

    Our schools have yet to accept the fact that in the knowledge society the majority of people make their living as employees.

    They work in an organization.

    They have to be effective in it.

    This is the exact opposite of what educational systems still assume.

    Arnold’s public school was based on the assumption that its graduates would be leaders in society; it did not expect them to be “employees.”

    The product of the American university or the German university, the professionals, were equipped to earn a living as an independent, or, at most, while working in a small partnership.

    No educational institution — not even the graduate school of management — tries to equip students with the elementary skills of effectiveness as members of an organization: 

    ability to present ideas orally and in writing (briefly, simply, clearly); 

    ability to work with people; 

    ability to shape and direct one’s own work, contribution, career; 

    and generally skills in making organization a tool for one’s own aspirations and achievements and for the realization of values.

    These, by the way, are very much the concerns that Socrates in Plato’s Dialogues talked about 2,500 years ago as the keys to a life worth living.


    From Teaching to Learning

    We now know how people learn.

    We now know that learning and teaching are not two sides of the same coin — they are different processes.

    What can be taught has to be taught and will not be learned otherwise.

    But what can be learned must be learned and cannot be taught.

    This new insight will increasingly shift the emphasis to learning.

    For several thousand years the focus has been on teaching; master teachers today teach the same way master teachers taught three thousand years ago.

    No one has yet found a method to replicate what they are doing.

    But not until the very end of the nineteenth century was the question ever asked: How do we learn?

    Once asked, however, new knowledge and new insight accumulated fast.

    Since new knowledge always take a long time before it becomes technology and application, we know a great deal more about learning than the schools have so far put to work.

    But we are at the point now at which the new knowledge of learning is becoming application.

    We know first that different people learn differently.

    Indeed, learning is as personal as fingerprints; no two people learn exactly alike.

    Each has a different speed, a different rhythm, a different attention span.

    If an alien speed, rhythm, or attention span is imposed on the learner, there is little or no learning; there are only fatigue and resistance.

    But we also know that different people learn different subjects differently.

    Most of us learned the multiplication table behaviorally, that is, by drill and repetition.

    But mathematicians do not “learn” the multiplication table; they perceive it.

    Similarly, musicians do not learn to read notation; they perceive it.

    And no born athlete ever had to learn how to catch a ball.

    Some things do have to be taught — and not only values, insight, meaning.

    A teacher is needed to identify a child’s strengths and to direct a talent toward achievement.

    Even Mozart would not have become the great genius he was but for a father who was a master teacher.

    One learns a subject.

    One teaches a person.

    We are ready now to put this new knowledge into practice.

    One reason is demographics.

    In developed countries most people live in metropolitan areas.

    Thus the learner is no longer confined to the one school with its one learning and teaching pedagogy for everybody, which was all the small village could support.

    The learner can choose between schools within easy reach, on foot, by bicycle, or by bus, yet each offering a different learning environment.

    It will predictably become the responsibility of tomorrow’s teacher to identify the way learners learn and to direct them to whichever of the available schools best fits their individual learning profiles.


    The New Learning Technology

    The new technology will force us to make that shift, for it is a learning rather than a teaching technology.

    As was first pointed out forty years ago by the Canadian Marshall McLuhan, it was not the Renaissance that changed the medieval university.

    It was the printed book.

    McLuhan’s well-known saying, “The medium is the message,” is surely an exaggeration.

    But the “medium” does imply what message can be sent and received.

    Equally important, it determines what messages cannot be sent and received.

    And the medium is rapidly changing.

    Just as the printed book became the new “high tech” of education in the fifteenth century, so computer, television, and video cassettes are becoming the high tech of education in the twentieth century.

    Thus the new technology is bound to have a profound impact on the schools and how we learn.

    The printed book, fiercely resisted by the schoolmasters of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, did not triumph until the Jesuits and Comenius created schools based on it in the early seventeenth century.

    From the beginning the printed book forced the schools however to change drastically how they were teaching.

    Before then, the only way to learn was either by laboriously copying manuscripts or by listening to lectures and recitations.

    Suddenly, people could learn by reading.

    We are in the early stages of a similar technological revolution, and perhaps an even bigger one.

    The computer is infinitely more “user-friendly” than the printed book, especially for children.

    It has unlimited patience.

    No matter how many mistakes the user makes, the computer will be ready for another try.

    It is at the command of the learner the way no teacher in a classroom can be.

    Teachers in a busy classroom rarely have time for any one child.

    The computer by contrast is always there, 

    whether the child is fast, slow, or average; 

    whether it finds this subject difficult and that one easy; 

    whether it wants to learn new things or to go back over something learned earlier.

    And, unlike the printed book, the computer admits of infinite variation.

    It is playful.

    But also there is television, and with it a whole world of visual pedagogy.

    There are more hours of pedagogy in one thirty-second commercial than most teachers can pack into a month of teaching.

    The subject matter of the TV commercial is quite secondary; what matters is the skill, professionalism, and persuasive power of the presentation.

    Children therefore come to school today with expectations that are bound to be disappointed and frustrated.

    They expect a level of teaching competence that goes beyond what most teachers can possibly muster.

    Schools will increasingly be forced to use computers, television, films, video tapes, and audio tapes.

    The teacher increasingly will become a supervisor and a mentor — very much, perhaps, the way he functioned in the medieval university some hundreds of years ago.

    The teacher’s job will be to help, to lead, to set example, to encourage; it may not primarily be to convey the subject matter itself.

    The printed book in the West triggered a surge in the love of learning such as the world had never seen before and has never seen since.

    It made it possible for people in all walks of life to learn at their own speed, in the privacy of their own home, or in the congenial company of like-minded readers.

    It also made it possible for people who were separated from each other by distance and geography to learn together.

    In the West at least the decisive event that produced “learning” was not the “rediscovery of antiquity” — it had never been lost.

    It was the new technology of the printed book.

    Will computers and technology together produce a similar explosion of the love of learning?

    Anyone who has seen a seven-or eight-year-old spend an hour running a math program on a computer or an even younger child watching “Sesame Street” knows that the powder for such an explosion is accumulating.

    Even if the schools do their worst to squelch it, the joy of learning generated by the new technologies will have an impact.

    In the United States and in Japan the schools, after thirty years of fierce resistance to the new technologies, are increasingly willing to use them, to embody them in their teaching methods, and to create the desire to learn which, in the last analysis, is the essence of being educated.


    What Is Knowledge?

    When the printed book appeared in the fifteenth century, what comprised “knowledge” was as ready for a sea change as the methods for transmitting it.

    We may be at a similar turning point.

    Like the Scholastics when the printed book appeared, we have had two hundred years in which specialization was the royal road both to the acquisition of new knowledge and to its transmission.

    In the physical sciences that may still work.

    Elsewhere specialization is becoming an obstacle to the acquisition of knowledge and an even greater barrier to making it effective.

    Academia defines knowledge as what gets printed.

    But surely this is not knowledge; it is raw data.

    Knowledge is information that changes something or somebody — either by becoming grounds for action, or by making an individual (or an institution) capable of different and more effective action.

    And this, little of the new “knowledge” accomplishes.

    Only fifty years ago the great scholars of the day wrote best sellers.

    Neither John Maynard Keynes nor Joseph Schumpeter — this century’s two great economists — were “popularizers.”

    Both were however avidly read by a great many non-economists.

    Arnold Toynbee, the English historian, did not attempt to cater to the multitude in the 1930s, nor did the books on the Greeks by two great classicists, Edith Hamilton and Werner Jaeger.

    Yet their works regularly made the bestseller lists, as did those of the leading American historians of the day.

    Their successors today have to pay to have their papers published in learned journals which not even their colleagues read.

    We no longer accept the old axiom that it is the duty of people of knowledge to make themselves understood.

    But until this has been done, no knowledge will have been produced.

    The readers are there, are indeed waiting hungrily.

    Whenever good scholars — the American historian Barbara Tuchman, the French historian Fernand Braudel, the English astrophysicist Stephen W. Hawking — deign to present their work in decent prose, the book is an instant hit.

    Who or what is to blame for the obscurantism of the learned is beside the point.

    What matters is that the learning of the academic specialist is rapidly ceasing to be “knowledge.”

    It is at best “erudition” and at its more common worst mere “data.”

    The disciplines and the methods that produced knowledge for two hundred years are no longer fully productive, at least outside of the natural sciences.

    The rapid growth of cross-disciplinary and interdisciplinary work would indeed argue that new knowledge is no longer obtained from within the disciplines around which teaching, learning, and research have been organized in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

    In 1943, the German-Swiss novelist Hermann Hesse published his last book, Das Glasperlenspiel (Magister Ludi).

    He invented a secluded order of intellectuals who spend their time playing Chinese music and puzzling out obscure riddles such as the glass bead game of the title, whilst avoiding any contact with the vulgar world outside.

    What Hesse had in mind was the withdrawal of German thinkers and writers into an inner world of refinement during the Nazi period.

    But in the end, Hesse’s hero rejects the “internal exile” of the intellectual games and returns to the dirty, noisy, polluted, and corrupt world of real people and therefore of real knowledge.

    Our academics do not have the excuse the German-speaking intellectuals had in Hitler’s day, but they have largely retired into Hesse’s glass bead game.

    Will they now be forced to make knowledge effective again, to make it once again true knowledge?

    That major changes are ahead for schools and education is certain — the knowledge society will demand them and the new learning theories and learning technologies will trigger them.

    How fast they will come we do not, of course, know.

    But we can predict with high probability where they will occur first and hit the hardest: the United States.

    In part because the United States has the most open, most flexible educational system and the least centralized and regimented one.

    In part, however, also because it is least satisfied with what it has today — and with good reason.




    Toward tomorrows

    from pyramids to dna

    pyramid to dna

    Toward unimagined futures

    bbx The End of Economic Man: The Origins of Totalitarianism (1939) There’s still lots to learn here!!!!

    The Future of Industrial Man (1943)

    The New Society: The Anatomy of Industrial Order (1950)

    bbx Landmarks of Tomorrow (1957)

    bbx The Age of Discontinuity (1968)

    bbx The New Realities (1988)

    bbx Post-Capitalist Society (1993)

    bbx Managing in the Next Society (2002); Last section originally published earlier in The Economist (





    “The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not turbulence;

    it is to act with yesterday’s logic”. — Peter Drucker



    The shift from manual workers
    who do as they are being told
    either by the task or by the boss —

    TO knowledge workers
    who have to manage themselves

    profoundly challenges social structure


    Managing Oneself (PDF) is a REVOLUTION in human affairs.” …

    “It also requires an almost 180-degree change in the knowledge workers’ thoughts and actions from what most of us—even of the younger generation—still take for granted as the way to think and the way to act.” …

    … “Managing Oneself is based on the very opposite realities:
    Workers are likely to outlive organizations (and therefore, employers can’t be depended on for designing your life),

    and the knowledge worker has mobility.” ← in a context



    More than anything else,

    the individual
    has to take more responsibility
    for himself or herself,
    rather than depend on the company.”


    “Making a living is no longer enough
    ‘Work’ has to make a life .” continue

    finding and selecting the pieces of the puzzle


    The Second Curve




    These pages are attention directing tools for navigating a world moving relentlessly toward unimagined futures.



    What’s the next effective action on the road ahead




    It’s up to you to figure out what to harvest and calendarize
    working something out in time (1915, 1940, 1970 … 2040 … the outer limit of your concern)nobody is going to do it for you.

    It may be a step forward to actively reject something (rather than just passively ignoring) and then working out a plan for coping with what you’ve rejected.

    Your future is between your ears and our future is between our collective ears — it can’t be otherwise.

    A site exploration: The memo THEY don't want you to see



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