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The factory model of education sees the traditional model of schooling as outdated.


Traditional Model

The traditional model of schooling is outlined as children sitting in a classroom receiving the same standardised education in broadly the same subjects. This model is seen as a product of the industrial revolution where children were taught the same skills so that they could run the factories of the growing western economies. Proponents of this idea claim that schools now look essentially the same as they did 100 years ago, with students receiving information from a teacher at the front of the class.  


In this sense, a school's job was to provide workers for the factories. Some argue that schools are designed in a way that they resemble factories. Proponents of this idea point to how: students were grouped by age/grade, just like the division of labour groups workers into teams or departments; time is managed closely with the use of bells; and, attendance is enforced. 


Active and Passive Learning

In the factory model, school is seen as a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching where children passively receive knowledge. 


Passive learning is where a learner simply receives information; it is contrasted with active learning where a learner engages in learning through tasks and activities. 


Modern Economy 

Advocates of the factory model view say that traditional school is outdated and needs to change to meet the requirements of a modern and diverse digital economy. 


As the processes in factories become increasingly automated, fewer people are required to undertake manual work. Instead, the jobs of the future economy will require people to complete cognitive roles (those which require thinking skills). Moreover, increasingly more industries will be automated over the coming decades, meaning that it may become normal for people to change careers several times during their working lives. Therefore there may well be greater demand for transferrable skills, or 'soft skills'. 


Four skills which have been identified are the 4Cs of 21st Century Learning: communication, critical thinking, creativity and collaboration (you can read more about them here). These are not skills that can be taught in a traditional 'factory model' sense, where a student passively receives knowledge. These are skills that are developed through working on shared projects and solving complex problems with the support of a teacher. Moreover, a modern digital economy is characterised by a huge proportion of self-employed workers selling unique products and services. Perhaps this is not best served by a schooling model that promotes uniformity and standardisation. 

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Is the Factory Model a Myth? -

How to Break Free of our 19th Century Factory Model -

Hacked Education: Factory Model -

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