Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Publication Date



Our understanding of human learning has been greatly improved by recent research findings from the fields of cognitive science, neurobiology, organizational studies, anthropology, linguistics, and evolutionary psychology. Despite all that is known, however, the majority of formal schools in the world operate much as they did 50 years ago. The pedagogy and the structure of the educational experience still reflect industrial age assumptions that are increasingly anachronistic in the modern knowledge production economy and in the post-modern cultural arena. Given the paucity of examples, it is difficult to visualize the characteristics of a future learning society - a society that embodies all that we know about human learning. This thesis develops two scenarios that attempt to describe two possible future societies; the first society is where learning flourishes and the other still labors under the industrial age assumptions. The purpose of these scenarios is to describe a utopian and a corresponding dys-utopian state that will serve as target conditions for current efforts at reform.

The thesis presents an extensive literature review of recent research and writings from the above mentioned disciplines. The literature review is divided into three parts: the pupose of education, the way people learn, and lessons from the field. Much of the literature was complied during an internship at the 21st Century Learning Initiative, and educational policy think tank located in Washington DC and on the web at www.21 Learn.erg