Models of Education

Factory model schooling or factory model education refers to an educational style or pedagogy that first emerged in Europe in the late 18th century whose primary characteristics are top-down management, emphasis on formal management, centralized planning, standardization, outcomes designed to meet societal needs, and efficiency in mass-producing results. It is comparable to the factory model of production. Such an educational system was devised “to create docile subjects and factory workers” (as surmised by Michael Foucault, a French philosopher and a proponent of the factory model of education) and is concurrent with Frederick Winslow Taylor’s Theory of Scientific Management that emphasizes depersonalization, strict hierarchy of authority, uniformity over innovation, process and procedure, and standardization of curriculum, testing, class sizes, time periods, and learning rates. Factory model schools employ direct instruction methods: a teacher drilled information into the class in an assembly line fashion, the students learn by rote copying and memorization, and they are then tested on the information taught to them.

The factory model of education reflects the idea that schools were originally built to train future factory workers during the industrial revolution. The belief was that “the back door of the school lead to the front door of the factory“, and students should only be taught the essential skills required to become a successful factory worker. Students were not placed into groups based on their abilities, but rather their chronological age. It created schools that in essence monolithically processed students in batches. By instituting grades and having a teacher focus on just one set of students of the same academic proficiency, the theory went, teachers could teach the same subjects, in the same way and at the same pace to all children in the classroom.

The factory model education system no longer works. We learn at different rates, have different aptitudes and enter classes with different experiences and background knowledge. Each of us needs a different, customized learning approach to maximize his or her potential.

Teaching people how to be their own persons by abandoning group think and developing the wisdom and courage to think for themselves should begin from infancy. More important than all the information they will learn will be how they learn: whether they can critically process that information to either accept or reject it.

Lateral thinking on the other hand is a term coined in 1967 by Edward de Bono, a pioneer of brain training. Lateral thinking is solving problems through an indirect and creative approach, using reasoning that is not immediately obvious and involving ideas that may not be obtainable by using only traditional step-by-step logic.

An example of lateral thinking is the famous Judgment of Solomon, where King Solomon resolved a dispute over the parentage of a child by calling for the child to be cut in half, and making his judgment according to the reactions that this order received.


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