Focus on the content of education

Influence of technological progress on format of organised education (especially on primary and secondary school) is problematic, to use the mildest term. One of the most important areas of humanitarian technology before widespreading of computers—book printing—have evolved in the recent centuries so that the cost (and price) of printed materials dropped by many orders of magnitude.

The model of school education usually associated with the name of Jan Amos Komenský (1592—1670) is in many respect just a way to gather a bunch of kids around a book—a costly book, so read aloud by a (presumably cheap) teacher. Some four hundred years after Comenius, many activities in the high and especially in the primary schools still involve a (much more expensive) teacher reading or rendering of a book (which usually costs only a fraction of a hourly cost of the teacher’s work) to children already supposed to have mastered reading. So much for technological progress.

With augmenting the teacher with computer and extending the classroom with the network, many hopes are being expressed pertaining to the potential of the new technologies to both improve quality of education of existing cohorts and to reach for others including those underprivileged, “to bring the best quality education to as many people as we could,” as Daphne Koller, a co-inventor of Coursera, put it (2012). It is no wonder designers and staff of MOOC systems as well as professors and assistants involved are struggling with the typical problems of big class, including “personali[sation of] feedback,” “lecture-based” vs “mastery-based” approach and so on (Ibid.).

Only rarely the issue of respective change in—or needed reinventing of—the content of education is raised in the connection of mastering new forms. It is not easy for me to connect this with the particular portions of the videos of the class, for my example from Koller mostly affecting higher school while the videos directly address primary school issues. But I think the experience of Waldorf pedagogy is important for many educators, even those who do not share Rudolf Steiner’s and his successors’ ideas, partly exactly because of rare concentration on the content of education inherent to Steiner’s school of thought.


Koller, D. (2012). What we're learning from online education. [Website.] Retrieved from 08 May, 2016.

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