Technology is evolving faster than our abilities to teach younger generations about it, creating an acute version of a common historical problem: an educational crisis. Today, educational crises are unfolding in and beyond the schools, in all parts of the world, and they all share a similar deep structure. In this, the first of a series, we explore contemporary examples with the intention of clarifying the general problem. Assuring the successful transfer of necessary skills, ideas, and values to the next generation has never been more complex, and yet we know that major failures of intergenerational transmission can dissolve societies into chaos. Finding solutions requires awareness of broader social trends. Examining important junctures in the history of American schooling may suggest a way forward.
The island nation of Taiwan produces some of the world’s most advanced technology, commands a robust industrial system, and is governed by efficient state institutions. Moreover, it has succeeded in leveraging information technology and citizen participation into a uniquely successful system of “digital democracy,” most recently credited with containing COVID-19 in Taiwan. This is thanks to a legacy of innovation in response to geopolitical imperatives, namely the threat posed by mainland China. While past success does not guarantee future results, and key challenges loom, Taiwan remains one of the most functional polities in the world.