Issue Number 264 August 31, 2019

This free Information Age Education Newsletter is edited by Dave Moursund and produced by Ken Loge. The newsletter is one component of the Information Age Education (IAE) and Advancement of Globally Appropriate Technology and Education (AGATE) publications.

All back issues of the newsletter and subscription information are available online. In addition, seven free books based on the newsletters are available: Joy of Learning; Validity and Credibility of Information; Education for Students’ Futures; Understanding and Mastering Complexity; Consciousness and Morality: Recent Research Developments; Creating an Appropriate 21st Century Education; and Common Core State Standards for Education in America.

Dave Moursund’s newly revised and updated book, The Fourth R (Second Edition), is now available in both English and Spanish (Moursund, 2018a, link; Moursund, 2018b, link). The unifying theme of the book is that the 4th R of Reasoning/Computational Thinking is fundamental to empowering today’s students and their teachers throughout the K-12 curriculum. The first edition was published in December, 2016, and the second edition in August, 2018. The Spanish translation of the second edition, La Cuarta R, was published in September, 2018. The three books have now had a combined total of more than 67,000 page-views and downloads. More than 14,000 of these are the Spanish edition.

Goals in Informal Education and Formal Schooling: Part 1

David Moursund

“It isn't enough just to learn—one must learn how to learn, how to learn without classrooms, without teachers, without textbooks. Learn, in short, how to think and analyze and decide and discover and create.” (Michael Bassis; American educator and author; 1946-.)
Comment from David Moursund: This is an example of a
long-lasting goal of education.

"...human brains have become equipped with add-ons, thinking tools by the thousands, that multiply our brains' cognitive powers by many orders of magnitude." (Daniel Clement Dennett III; American philosopher, writer, and cognitive scientist; 1942-.)
Comment from David Moursund: This is an example of a
long-lasting goal of education.

The previous IAE Newsletter was the second in a future-looking mini-series that explores the question, “Based on forecasts of the future, what changes in our current educational systems will be most likely to better prepare students for their possible futures?” (Moursund, 8/15/2019, link). My plan is to develop this newsletter mini-series into a short (free) book designed for preservice and inservice teachers, parents (especially those with children currently in school), and other people interested in improving our precollege educational systems.

I now am focusing on an examination of some long-held educational goals. As I worked on this thinking and writing project, the resulting document grew longer and longer, and is now divided between this newsletter and the one to follow in mid-September, 2019.
Schooling and Informal Education

In these two newsletters, I differentiate between the carefully structured learning time I call schooling, and the less structured, informal learning time I call informal education. The category of schooling includes enrollment in public and private schools, home schooling, tutoring, and participation in religious activities, sports clubs, camps, and so on.

Informal education consists of all of the rest of a person’s time. Learning is a natural, lifelong activity. Whether awake or asleep, your brain is processing information from your body’s internal and external senses, and information already stored in your brain. Considerable research has been done on the importance of sleep and what your brain does during that time.

If we just consider a K-12 student’s waking hours per year, most students spend far less time in schooling than in informal education. However, there is wide variation from student to student, as well as wide variation in the educational richness of their learning environments.

Consider the informal education provided by a home and community environment. As a personal example, my parents were both well-educated, they valued education, and they both taught at the precollege and university levels. So, I grew up in a cognitively-rich home environment. I was born during the Great Depression, I learned to be frugal, but I did not want from the lack of basics of food, clothing, and shelter. My childhood home did not have television until I was 16 years old, but we had a radio. Children at that time did not have computer games, but we had board games and card games. I did a lot of reading, playing with neighborhood friends, and so on. I grew up in a relatively small city, so could bicycle to most places I wanted to visit. In summary, I enjoyed a very rich informal education.

It is essential that we consider both schooling and informal education as we work to improve the education of our children.

General Schooling Goals in the United States

There is widespread agreement throughout the United States that students should have access to free schools designed to provide good educational opportunities. There is less agreement on what should be the specific goals of such schools, and there is still less agreement on what the standards and methodologies should be for content, pedagogy, and assessment. In addition, there are major differences in quality/effectiveness among the various public and private K-12 schools in the U.S.

In casual conversation, I often talk about such goals as helping every student to grow up to be a decent, respectful, responsible, contributing adult. Schooling contributes toward students making progress on these goals, but informal education often plays a larger role.

I also talk about the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic (math), because computer technology is a powerful change agent in all three areas. These basics have been part of schooling since it started more than 5,000 years ago. Our schools have made essentially no progress over the past 25 years in improving test scores in reading, writing, and arithmetic. I continually ask myself whether improving these test scores should be a major goal of our schools (Moursund, 10/15/2016, link). Perhaps these goals need to be substantially revised?

The development of reading and writing as aids to our brains was an immense human achievement. Let’s take a brief look at writing in order to illustrate challenges faced by our current educational systems.

From its earliest development, writing served two major purposes. First, it provided the content that could be read, shared, stored, and transported. Second, writing is a memory and thinking aid in dealing with a very wide range of problems.

Writing allows spoken words to be stored on paper or other writing surfaces, transported over distances, and preserved over time. Historically, the ability to have and to access written tax and business records came to be very valuable.

In the past two centuries, we humans have developed technologies that can be thought of as greatly expanding the concept of writing. Photography provides a good example. It is easy to take a picture. A picture stores information and can be transported. Moreover, it does not take years of schooling to learn to take or view a picture.

Consider a telephone. Without knowing how to read or write, a person can communicate over distances. With recording devises, sound can be stored for use in the future. With a smartphone, a person can take motion pictures while recording sound. Again, it does not take years of schooling to learn to use such devices.

Consider the Web—a huge and steadily growing multimedia library. More and more of the world’s accumulated knowledge is readily available to children and adults online, and they learn to access this knowledge with relatively little formal schooling focused specifically on this activity.

So, here is a fundamental question. When writing consisted only of putting spoken words and perhaps some simple line drawings onto a surface, then it was clear what schooling should do in teaching reading and writing. But, now that reading and writing have expanded to include interactive multimedia, to what extent should all students learn to read and write interactive multimedia? Many of today’s graphic artists specialize in this form of reading and writing. Should schools expect all students to develop basic knowledge and skills in these areas?

Math education faces a different challenge. Much of today’s school math instruction consists of teaching paper-and-pencil calculation methods for solving a wide range of types of math problems, and all of these calculations can be performed by calculators and computers. But, math is much more than being able to do such calculations. We want students to develop both number sense and math sense. However, our schools have so far made only modest progress in decreasing the time spent on teaching pencil-and-paper calculations, and increasing the time spent on helping students learn to develop number sense and math sense.

The focus of this and the next newsletter is on a general list of goals of schooling in the United States, somewhat modified from a list that I developed with my colleague Dick Ricketts more than 30 years ago (Moursund & Ricketts, 10/1/2016). The list has been divided into three categories: Conserving Goals, Achieving Goals, and Accountability Goals. While the general types of goals in such a list tend to stand the test of time, the emergence and rapid growth of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is now having a profound effect on many of the goals.

In most societies, a major goal of schooling is conserving and preserving the culture and values of the community, state, and country. I see two major difficulties in this. First, a number of the problems that students will have to deal with as adults are international or even global, so it is important that they learn to think internationally and globally. Second, Conserving Goals and Achieving Goals can both produce conflicts. For example, they can lead to a struggle between younger and older people. As students gain increasing knowledge and skills, they sometimes rebel against the conservative nature of schooling and the adult society. Many students ask, “Why do I have to learn this?” and are not able to understand and/or accept answers provided by their teachers. They may also ask, “Why aren’t adults solving the important problems our world faces?”

Each goal can be analyzed from the schooling versus informal education points of view. Each goal also can be analyzed in terms of how that goal is being affected by continued progress in the many applications of ICT and artificial intelligence.

I will give some examples of this analysis for the Conserving Goals in the following discussion, but I do not attempt to provide an in-depth analysis for each goal in the Moursund-Ricketts list. The Achieving Goals and Accountability Goals will be addressed in the next newsletter.

Conserving Goals

Goal 1. Safety: Students are safe from emotional and physical harm. Both schooling and informal education systems must provide a safe and secure environment designed to promote learning.

Comment: Safety is an ongoing concern for all people. School shootings have received considerable attention in recent years, but there are many other very important types of safety and security concerns. The following are just three examples of current concerns faced by our students.

Throughout their childhood, children face possible physical and verbal abuse (such as bullying and worse) from their fellow students and from adults. Many organizations are now working to reduce this abuse. As one example, the stated goal of the “90 by 30” program developed in the College of Education at the University of Oregon is to achieve a 90% reduction in childhood abuse by the year 2030 (Mirage News, 6/24/2019, link).

Computers are a major safety issue, both in and outside of schools. Consider some of the problems associated with children and young adults having routine and unsupervised use of the Internet and Web. It is simple for them to access the rapidly growing amount of fake and strongly biased information now making up a significant part of the content of the Web, and to have increasingly easy access to pornography. In addition, today’s online social networking and computer games have both redeeming and non-redeeming values, and many children and young adults have become somewhat addicted (or often, quite addicted) to them. In the “good old days” of just a few years ago, parents needed to be concerned by the amount of time their children spent watching television. This problem has morphed from TV watching to playing computer games and social networking.

Another steadily growing issue is the computerization of student records. This is not limited to just keeping student attendance and grade records on file. Computer-assisted instruction is able to collect massive records of students’ minute-by-minute performance as they make use of such instructional systems. We are all familiar with the financial and personal data of adults being stolen. Do you think we are adequately safeguarding student records? I certainly doubt that we are (Moursund, 5/21/2018, link).

Goal 2. Values and Diversity: Students respect individual differences and the traditional values of the family, religious beliefs and practices, community, state, nation, and world in which they live.

Comment: While the world is not growing physically smaller, it definitely is growing smaller in terms of transportation, communication, and the sharing of collected knowledge. The Internet and today’s computerized language translation systems make it possible for students to grow up with “Internet friends” and “fellow students” from around the world with whom they communicate regularly for both friendship and learning purposes. Students also can access online information in many languages from diverse countries throughout the world.

The world’s transportation systems make it possible for an increasing number of students to travel to many places in their own country and to travel abroad. Such travel can be quite expensive, so this component of informal education definitely favors students from more wealthy families.

Goal 3. Sustainability: Students value a healthy and sustainable local, regional, national, and global environment, and they knowingly work to improve the quality of their environment.

Comment: Problems such as global warming, air pollution, water pollution, fresh water shortages, land pollution, rapid rates of animal extinction, rapidly increasing human population, and threats of global epidemics all fall into this category. We can provide all students with an opportunity to learn about such global problems and how to work knowingly to resolve them.

We are all familiar with the statement, “Think globally, act locally.” More than ever, it is important that this concept be thoroughly integrated into the education of our children. Thus, I propose that each subject area students are required to study while in school should give appropriate, relevant attention to these types of topics (Moursund, 7/1/2016, link). ICT has now become a routine aid to addressing such problems, and so provides an excellent vehicle for integrating the relevant use of ICT into all grade levels and all subject areas of the curriculum.

Final Remarks
Right now, with the small exception of a few living in a space station, all humans live on earth. I express this idea in the statement that we are all “citizens of the earth.” We are all Homo sapiens.

The schooling and informal education that each person receives will, of course, be different for each one, and this produces substantial differences among people. Even identical twins raised in the same household are different.

Each country faces problems that can only be dealt with effectively through considerable cooperation among its own people. Somewhat similarly, our world faces problems that can only be dealt with effectively through considerable cooperation of the nations and peoples of the world.

Thus, the goals of education need to prepare students to be decent, respectful, responsible, contributing adults, both in their own nations and in their world. This task is being helped by improvements in transportation and communication, and by the many ongoing activities and projects that are international or global in scope.
Each of us is both a lifelong learner and a lifelong teacher. Please use your knowledge and skills to help in solving the problems of the region in which you live and throughout the whole world.

The next newsletter will continue our examination of general goals of education and how they are being affected by ICT.
References and Resources

Mirage News (6/24/2019). Program in College of Education works to reduce child abuse (University of Oregon, College of Education). Retrieved 8/25/2019 from

Moursund, D. (8/15/2019). Educational goals and improving education. IAE Newsletter. Retrieved 8/16/2019 from

Moursund, D. (6/9/2019). Forecasting possible futures of education. IAE Blog. Retrieved 8/16/2019 from

Moursund, D. (6/3/2019). Problem solving. IAE-pedia. Retrieved 8/21/2019 from

Moursund, D. (2018). The Fourth R (Second Edition). Eugene, OR: Information Age Education. Retrieved 8/13/2019 from Download the Microsoft Word file from Download the PDF file from Download the Spanish edition from

Moursund, D. (5/21/2018). "Big Brother" is getting better at tracking you. IAE Blog. Retrieved 8/19/2019 from

Moursund, D. (10/15/2016). Robert Branson’s Upper Limit Hypothesis. IAE Newsletter. Retrieved 8/28/2019 from

Moursund, D (9/24/2016). What is (name of discipline). IAE-pedia. Retrieved 8/23/2019 from

Moursund, D. (9/23/2016). Self-assessment. IAE-pedia. Retrieved 8/21/2019 from

Moursund, D. (7/1/2016). Neuroscience, global education, and world cooperation on problem solving. IAE Blog. Retrieved 8/16/2019 from

Moursund, D. (2012). Scholarship/science of teaching and learning. IAE-pedia. Retrieved 8/20/2019 from

Moursund, D. (2010). All educators are engaged in the scholarship of teaching and learning. IAE Blog. Retrieved 8/20/2019 from

Moursund, D., & Ricketts, R. (10/1/2016). Goals of education in the United State. IAE-pedia. Retrieved 8/18/2019 from

Operation Warm (6/12/2018). Long-term impacts of poverty on children: Health & education.
Retrieved 8/18/2019 from

SoTL (n.d.). Society for Teaching and Learning in higher education. Retrieved 8/25/2019 from


David Moursund is an Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Oregon, and editor of the IAE Newsletter. His professional career includes founding the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) in 1979, serving as ISTE’s executive officer for 19 years, and establishing ISTE’s flagship publication, Learning and Leading with Technology (now published by ISTE as Empowered Learner).He was the major professor or co-major professor for 82 doctoral students. He has presented hundreds of professional talks and workshops. He has authored or coauthored more than 60 academic books and hundreds of articles. Many of these books are available free online. See .

In 2007, Moursund founded Information Age Education (IAE). IAE provides free online educational materials via its IAE-pedia, IAE Newsletter, IAE Blog, and IAE books. See . Information Age Education is now fully integrated into the 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, Advancement of Globally Appropriate Technology and Education (AGATE) that was established in 2016. David Moursund is the Chief Executive Officer of AGATE.


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Information Age Education is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving education for learners of all ages throughout the world. Current IAE activities and free materials include the IAE-pedia at, a Website containing free books and articles at, a Blog at, and the free newsletter you are now reading. See all back issues of the Blog at and all back issues of the Newsletter at