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TRANSCULTURAL FRIENDSHIP: OUR POLITICAL FUTURE

Chapter Eleven: The Educating Society

Section 1: Research and Development

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Chapters seven, eight and nine suggest how one might educate through formal operations. In the last chapter we suggested the availability of a higher "systems" stage which would make possible new human qualities and powers critical to the demands of the changing future. The obvious question then is how to educate for systems thinking and the corresponding human competencies.

 

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Before continuing our consideration of the methods of education, let us address the issue of "How much education can we afford?" After all, the ideas in the three educational chapters are going to be considerably more expensive to implement than their traditional counterparts. Now it is suggested that even further education is necessary, perhaps further delaying the onset of productivity during the human life span.

 

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Education is an investment society makes for its future. It may be profitably compared to the investment a business corporation makes in research and development. Obviously an organization that can barely meet its own expenses can ill afford speculative investments; this could apply to poor corporations as well as poor societies. Even a wealthy organization may decide a futuristic investment is unwise, if the anticipated outcome would have little value: maybe Alchemy Corp could find a way to convert gold into silver -- but what is it worth?; maybe an autocratic society could produce systems thinkers, but what would it do with them?

 

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However, successful corporations in technologically intensive and competitive fields must spend a considerable fraction of their budgets on research and development. The ratio of money spent on research and development over that spent on production is an important indicator of a corporation's staying power in the marketplace. In fact, for many corporations, innovation is their main product. Thus, the U.S. is less concerned with the number of IBM computers the USSR obtains than with the amount of technology represented by any one computer. The relative importance of technology over product is another aspect of the evolution from the energy age to the information age discussed in chapter three.

 

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As technology becomes more important, so does education. However, there is still a limit to the amount of expertise a society, even one like the U.S., can assimilate. The United States will probably not be able to effectively utilize 2OO million Systems thinkers by the year 2000. It would be hard to say that any country is spending either too much or too little on education today -- again, priorities must be balanced. The one thing that is clear is that the more advanced a society is, and the more it is successful at providing for short-term needs, the greater will be its desire and need to spend a larger fraction of its resources on education.

 

 

 

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