| The pessimistic vision of the school of the future is simply that it will be a continuation of the school of the present. Our philosophy of education is embodied as much in mortar as in mortar boards: rows of desks bolted to the floor facing the "front" of the classroom, where stands the teacher, the source of all knowledge. This traditional "outside-in" vision of teaching made some sense in the early days of universal education, when the personal knowledge of the teacher, limited as it must be, could somewhat enrich information-impoverished environments. However, it makes no sense now that our everyday environment is so rich in information that a child's education is interrupted by going to school.|
The pessimistic vision of the office/factory of the future is based on there being a repetition of the errors of the first wave of automation. When blue-collar work was automated, time-and-motion studies attempted to integrate the person with the machine to maximize the efficiency of the process of production. But the limitations of this approach were revealed in an experiment at the Hawthorne Works of the Western Electric Company in the 1920s, in which researchers were investigating the effect of working conditions on the productivity of workers. One variable was illumination. They increased the illumination. Productivity went up. They decreased the illumination. Productivity went up. They pretended to change the illumination but actually left it the same. Productivity went up. The same surprising results were found when they varied a number of conditions in the physical environment of the worker. Production could be increased by doing something - indeed, anything. It did not really matter precisely what was done.
This Hawthorne Effect has been attributed to the fact that any novelty decreases boredom and thus increases productivity or to the fact that researchers' interest in the workers increased morale and thus productivity. Emphasis in industrial psychology shifted, as a result of this experiment, from the physical environment of the workplace to its psychological climate.
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