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March 1, 2022

Why We are Building Disco: Leaving Industrial school behind as we exit the Industrial Age - Part 1

Margaret Atwood and Disco announce first-of-its-kind NFT learning project to launch on energy-efficient Tezos blockchain

Part 1 of our Series on Why We Are Building Disco.

It was only a few hundred years ago that institutional school was born for the industrial age. Industrial school was built to meet the growing demand for trained and obedient workers, and taught people to  “follow orders, to respect the space and property rights of others, be punctual, docile, and sober” according to Economist Joel Mokyr.

A few weeks ago, we had one of my favourite thinkers on the subject of school, Seth Godin, pioneer of cohort based courses and legendary marketer and thinker joining us again on our Creator Sessions series for a full hour on how to design engaging learning experiences.

Seth recognized early that Industrial School = Industrial Age.

As Seth Godin so aptly puts it:

Around 1850, people who ran factories needed to persuade millions of people to work in the factory. The entire function of organized school was to create compliant humans: to get you to sit in straight rows, to be processed, to take the defects and reprocess them.  And then, after a number of years, to turn you out, so that you would go to work as a young adult in a factory being told what to do. But about 30 or 40 years ago, we changed what we need but school didn't change all that much. And so we've now got robots and computers that can take the place of anything that is based on following instructions. All that's left is innovation, insight, generosity, leadership. And we don't spend one minute a day teaching those things at school.

As we transition from the industrial age to an exponential future, we are witnessing formal school in crisis. Debt levels for students at all time highs (44MM students with over $32K debt), many mid tier universities are shuttering, middle class salaries frozen in time, and the skills being taught completely out of sync with those in demand for the future.

It should be no surprise that Chris hated school and loved learning. He opted for entrepreneurship over accreditation.

As an immigrant, I felt I had no choice but to love school to succeed. Over time though, I learned I had to unlearn industrial skills and embrace entrepreneurial learning to thrive in a complex world. My passion led me to teach creativity as a 21st century skill in a cohort based course I designed in 2016.

At Disco, we aren’t trying to fix formal school, that will happen over time.

To us, learning is a lifelong journey as ancient as us humans.  

In fact, Disco is the Latin word for learn. We believe most of the innovation in learning will happen outside of the institutional system, and that is where creators live and we like to play.

This is Part 1 in our Series on Why We Are Building Disco.

Thanks for reading and if you're someone who gets just as excited about lifelong learning and creating transformative live learning experiences, join our waitlist here 👉