Disruptors is a series of articles and opinion pieces commission by Virgin all loosely connected under the theme “Is education keeping up with the 21st century?” I like to think I can be as disruptive as anybody, and have responded to a commission to write about edtech with the following article:

Does technology have the power to transform education? Undoubtedly. But not necessarily in the ways we expect and not necessarily for the better.

Technology has been transforming education for as long as either have been in existence. Language, arguably the most crucial technological advancement in our history, moved education from mere mimicry and emulation into the realms of cultural transmission; as we became able to express abstractions so we could teach our offspring about the interior world of thought beyond the concrete reality we experienced directly.

This process accelerated and intensified with the invention of writing. In Plato’s Phaedrus, Socrates rails against writing saying it will eat away at the marrow of society and kill off young people’s ability to memorise facts. He was right. The transformative power of writing utterly reshaped the way we think and how we use knowledge. From the point at which we were able to record our thoughts in writing, we no longer had to remember everything we needed to know.

Read more on the Disruptors site.