We are excited to be interviewing Andy Polaine on the podcast this Thursday 22nd November about the current state of the educational system, not just in Australia, but globally.

As the pace of change steadily increases and more aspects of our lives become interconnected, the need for multidisciplinarity has never been greater. At the same time, creative skills frequently ranks as number one in surveys of what Fortune 500 companies are looking for in new employees. Yet education has suffered a continuous assault from governments of the day for at least the past three decades. Public funding is the fossil fuel of higher educations – there is less and less of it each year and it’s not coming back.

At the same time, and often to justify funding cuts, education has been subjected to wave after wave of testing, ranking and assessments – it has been measured to within an inch of its life. The problem is, the majority of these assessments only measure what is easily quantifiable, leaving out a huge range of experiential aspects of education, as well as hitting the arts and social sciences particularly hard. How do you measure creative thinking in a number? That question is the wrong tool for the job.

The result in teaching and research is a turf war, as it always is when there are more mouths than pie to go around. Turf wars inevitably end up creating silos, precisely the opposite of what society needs. If you want to understand why public and commercial organisations have a silo problem, take a look at its origins in education. It’s evident in the campus – the sciences and engineering are in a different building or even campus from art and design. Political science separated from design, yet we know design is highly, if not always, political. Apart from the occasional elective or research project, there is rarely much crossover. And so this flows into working and organisational culture. But if you want to understand the world properly, you need to understand that they’re all connected. The design and technology principles behind Facebook’s news feed directly affected the U.S. election, itself a system understood and played by Donald Trump.

Public education as we know it has had a new lick of technology paint, but its structure has remained largely unchanged in the past 150 years, from its roots in the Industrial Revolution. If we look at school education, the picture is even more static.

So the question is, if we were to design an education system from scratch now, what would it look like and how might we get from here to there?

This episode will be recorded on Wednesday 22nd November. Andy will be joined by Simon McIntyre, Associate Dean Education at UNSW Sydney.

Posted by Gerry Scullion

Founder of This is HCD and host of Bringing Design Closer. Director of Humana Design a human-centered service design practice in Dublin, Ireland. Fellow of RSA.