Book: Education in a Time Between Worlds

I’ve also picked up Education in a Time Between Worlds. Not very far yet but I’m working through and taking notes/reflecting with some of my own thoughts and opinions on each topic. If you have made some progress yourself I would enjoy discussing the book here. I will also likely be posting reflections on my personal website under a soon-to-be-created reading section.

What strikes me about the first essay (Education in the Anthropocene: Futures Beyond Schooling) is how similar Zachary’s “utopian” vision for education aligns quite closely to my own, despite not having read a whole lot of literature on education myself.

I think the primary difference between today’s education systems and the proposed educational hubs he discusses in the book is the difference between passive and active. At its core, the systems today are built around a passive model of education where students are treated as empty glasses to be filled by lectures, readings, and a curriculum which dictates what they should learn and when. Of course there are active elements within the passive system (projects, research, etc.) but being under a passive system these activities often lose their meaning. Conversely, the educational hub is centred around an active model of education where students take more initiative in their own individual learning process.

I want to find some research studying alternative education systems which are built around active models of education to back up (or disprove) these next hypotheses, but I think that it makes sense that the passive/active model makes a huge difference on the way students learn to see the world. The passive model of today’s education instills a passive world view of consuming information from trusted experts, doing what you’re told, and generally not taking initiative of one’s own – especially when it comes to global issues (e.g. climate change) where “passive” thinkers posit that there’s not much they can do in the grand scheme of things and therefore react apathetically, leaving the problem to someone else. And then again to compare with the hypothetical future of educational hubs, I think one of the reasons this idea is compelling is that it gives people the power to make a difference. Starting at an individual level by being able to make a difference on your own learning and education, and then within your social groups, and then your community. And before you know it you have citizens who not only want to make a difference on the world but actually know how to make a difference.

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This book and Zak are great. Would love to do a reading and reflection group with people here. Hello @jaredpereira.

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Hey @Ericscott welcome! Would love to do a discussion group. Maybe something based around each chapter?

@Azlen the active/passive distinction is a powerful one for sure, and I’ve seen it pop up in a lot of places. Probably the most famous if in Pablo Freire’s work, where he talks about the “banking” model of education, where students are vessels to make knowledge deposits into.

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Great idea @jaredpereira. I would block out a M or Tues evening on a recurring basis for that!

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Awesome! What time zone are you in @Ericscott?

I’m not sure what the ideal structure would be here. I’d love it to be based around producing some kinda artifact, maybe even a blogchain type thing a la @cjeller1592’s Blogging Futures adventrue? Any ideas?

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A blogchain thing would be cool @jaredpereira! You could have each week be a reflection post on a set number pages. Also it ensures your learnings are posted to your own site first but are syndicated elsewhere (the blogchain). I’d love to help host the blogchain & join in if y’all want to move forward with that format.


I’d be super down for blogchain style. I think that the longer form reflections of the blogging (and the conversational aspect of bouncing off each other’s ideas) would be a great format for this small little reading group.

Just a note on the medium of the blogging chain: If we go through each week or two reflecting and discussing a specific chapter, it could be nice if previous weeks were left open to submit even after the next prompt goes up. This would give a space for discussions to continue, and for latecomers to have the chance to add their voice to the conversation.

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Hi @jaredpereira et al. I’m in NYC now. Sorry for letting slip. Is there a good way to respond on mobile here?

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I think that’s where having a unique form for each week would come in. That way people can contribute to a specific chapter at any time and have that conversation continue in a dedicated space.

I’d say let’s do it! What do y’all think about starting this coming week?

@cjeller1592 what were you thinking for hosting? I can write up a little intro blurb. Perhaps each chapter could crowd source prompts/questions from others posts that we could add to the main post over time?

Hey guys! @rhyscass looped me in as I’ve been trying to persuade the Zak Stein enthusiasm I’m seeing amongst my beautiful peers into a book club.

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I was thinking of hosting it on a separate blog that would be dedicated for it. Like Blogging Futures, each chapter will get its own post & form so people can add their contributions to each chapter in a blogchain style. That way, like @azlen brought up, anyone can jump in and contribute their thoughts to a chapter at any time.

It will be housed in this blog. Just send me over your intro blurb in Markdown @jaredpereira and I’ll get the forms all started.


Hey all ! Got the blog set up here and the prompt for the first chapter (or rather the Introduction) is up!

Let me know know if you want to add anything to the site or anything. Looking forward to hearing everyone’s thoughts!


Just posted to my thoughts on the intro! I’ll probably be coming back to it to add more questions, but that’s it for now. Hope to see some of y’alls before we head to the next one!


@cjeller1592 go the next prompt from @rhyscass for Chapter 1: Education in the Anthropocene: Futures beyond Schooling

This chapter really sets the scene for how education can play a major role in helping steward humanity and our world through the ‘meta-crisis’. There are some innovative ideas on schooling and technology and some ‘concrete utopian’ visions of what could be.

I think it would be cool to discuss some of the possible futures Zak proposes or you have been inspired to think about, what to do with schools, the role of technology in reimagining education and how to solve the ‘babysitting problem’.

Chapter 1 is live @jaredpereira!

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Woo! Also, I’m wondering if folks would be interested in augmenting the blogchain with a video call sometime in the next couple weeks? This book has a lot in it and I know for me at least some face to face discussion could help dig into the ideas. It might be hard to coordinate timezones, but I think we could pull something off! If enough people are interested I’ll put up a poll.

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Hey, I’d be down for a video call in addition to the blogchain–if I can fit between my school and work schedules! Sorry I’m a bit late to writing something up for the blogchain, I’ve been out of town and haven’t had the book with me while away. Just got back today so I’m planning to join in in the next week or so.


I think it might make sense to leave these chapters up for more than a week (given their length/depth). So let’s put up another one this coming monday.

This is the first book I’ve read in a while that’s prompted me to take actual notes while reading, so I’m definitely getting used to that.

Anyways, here are some loose thoughts on Chapter 1:

Futures beyond schooling thoughts

Currently I’m keen to explore two offshoots from this chapter

  1. The process for creating technology to achieve the vision
  2. Financial infrastructure to get it done (ideally w/o national funding)

The latter I think is particularly key, as Stein talks a lot about education as a planetary endeavor (or as the coming/present world system as planetary), and so I think it’s worth exploring how these new futures could be brought into being without relying on nation state resources.

For the former I think computers have a lot more central role to play than stein gives them credit for. I think he says at one point “the computer is the new chalkboard and textbook” but to me it’s more like the new school house (in context he’s against it being the new teacher, which I’m in agreement with). Computers are tools for creating educational structures.

One thought I’m still tangling with is what role should computing have in the curriculum of these future learning systems. My gut is that if the structures people are learning in our computational they must learn to manipulate computational systems to be brought into full agency.

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I started also with the book in this summer, but suddenly noticed Ivan Illich. And since I did hear about him from other context too, I took the Detour and started reading Deschooling society first.

What I can say about Zak and his book so far is that I really like his concept of teacherly authority.

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