An Obsolete Society?

“What appears to be truth to the one may appear to be error to the other.” – Gandhi
More than 10 years working in public education across the United States and Canada has taught me a few things. Sure, I figured out what works for me when I teach students and teachers and administrators, and sure, I learned about the pressures and realities of everyday school functioning.  I have learned is that Bill Gates was right when he said back in 2005 that schools, as we know them today in general, are obsolete. Worse still, they are oppressive and compulsory, which has always been a dangerous ignitor among tinderbox nations with aspirational lower- and middle-classes. 

But my conclusion may be a little more rough: Schools are just the part of the iceberg we can see.
Our society has relied on adultism to enforce adultcentrism for more than 100 years, and now the fruits of that labor is coming to bear. Child abuse, compulsory schools, the Draft, truancy laws, religious norms, policing practices, and a smear of other tools have been used consciously and unconsciously for more than five generations to oppress, suppress and otherwise keep children and youth “in their place,” which has frequently been less-than-human, and is constantly less-than-citizen. 
There are synchromonious emergences happening that will undo this negative reality:
  • Readily-accessible technology, including cell phones, laptops and the Internet
  • Interactive Internet, including collaborative, distributive and generative activities
  • Increasing socially estute teaching in schools, at home and throughout the community
  • Vested adults who are concerned about adultism, youth rights and youth inclusion
  • Powerful young people who are acting more assertively, pro-actively and consciously than all previous generations
This is the future of our country and our world, and whether or not we like it is largely irrelevant. The simple fact-of-the-matter is that young people possess more positive power than ever before, and as Gandhi’s satyagraha taught us, there is no more powerful force than love and that positive power. 
Let’s embrace that power, and that urgency. We have to embrace that urgency.
Written by Adam Fletcher, this article was originally posted to Learn more at!

Published by Adam

For almost two decades, Adam F. C. Fletcher has led international outreach focused on engaging people successfully. Working with thousands of youth-serving nonprofits, K-12 schools, government agencies, international NGOs and other organizations around the world, his work spans the fields of education, public health, economic development and social services, and includes professional development, public speaking, publishing, social media and more. He founded the Freechild Institute for Youth Engagement, SoundOut and CommonAction, as well as writing more than 50 publications and 500 articles. He has also established 150-plus community empowerment projects.

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1 Comment

  1. Schools are used to keep more than young people in their place. Schools are used to erase the realms of possibility that enabled working-class Americans to transcend their “place” in the days prior to compulsory schooling. Schools are used to keep the respective classes, sexes and races in their “places” and perpetuate a racist, sexist, classist, capitalist order.

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