אתמול, בבלוג שהוא הקים שעוסק בנושאים הקשורים לספר החדש שלו, שירקי פרסם פרוטוקול של הרצאה שהוא נשא לפני מספר ימים. בהרצאה הזאת שירקי איננו מתייחס כלל לחינוך, אבל נדמה לי שלא יזיק אם אנשי חינוך ינסו לבחון את ההשתמעויות האפשריות של התהליך שהוא מתאר על התחום שלהם.
שירקי עורך השוואה בין התקופה שלנו לבין זו של המהפכה התעשייתית, ומתמקד בנקודה שהיא אולי מאד לא צפוייה. הוא כותב:
The transformation from rural to urban life was so sudden, and so wrenching, that the only thing society could do to manage was to drink itself into a stupor for a generation. The stories from that era are amazing– there were gin pushcarts working their way through the streets of London.
And it wasn't until society woke up from that collective bender that we actually started to get the institutional structures that we associate with the industrial revolution today. Things like public libraries and museums, increasingly broad education for children, elected leaders–a lot of things we like–didn't happen until having all of those people together stopped seeming like a crisis and started seeming like an asset.
It wasn't until people started thinking of this as a vast civic surplus, one they could design for rather than just dissipate, that we started to get what we think of now as an industrial society.
For the first time, society forced onto an enormous number of its citizens the requirement to manage something they had never had to manage before–free time.
And what did we do with that free time? Well, mostly we spent it watching TV. ….
And it's only now, as we're waking up from that collective bender, that we're starting to see the cognitive surplus as an asset rather than as a crisis. We're seeing things being designed to take advantage of that surplus, to deploy it in ways more engaging than just having a TV in everybody's basement.