Chapter One of Drive
As you may know, RealSchool is all about student-driven, passion-based learning, and so we were immediately taken with Pink's notion that jobs in the 21st century have become and will continue to become "more complex, more interesting, and more self-directed."
Behavioral scientists often divide what we do on the job or learn in school into two categories: "algorithmic" and "heuristic." An algorithmic task is one in which you follow a set of established instructions down a single pathway to one conclusion. That is, there's an algorithm for solving it. A heuristic task is the opposite. Precisely because no algorithm exists for it, you have to experiment with possibilities and devise a novel solution. Working as a grocery clerk is mostly algorithmic. You do pretty much the same thing over and over in a certain way. Creating an ad campaign is heuristic. You have to come up with something new.
During the twentieth century, most work was algorithmic . . . . The consulting firm McKinsey and Co. estimates that in the United States, only 30 percent of job growth now comes from algorithmic work, while 70 percent comes from heuristic work. A key reason: Routine work can be outsourced or automated; artistic, empathic, nonroutine work generally cannot. . . .
Partly because work has become more creative and less routine, it has also become more enjoyable. (27-29)
And . . .
Routine, not-so-interesting jobs require direction; non-routine, more interesting work depends on self-direction [our italics] (30).
So! What are educators doing to make sure their classrooms are not places where algorithmic tasks take place, but rather where students participate in heuristic, creative, and self-directed work?
We recommend reading Scott McLeod's blog Dangerously Irrelevant, for constant updates on what's good and what's still bad in the world of education today.