Moore’s Law

When Intel co-founder Gordon Moore was asked to create a way to predict the market for semiconductors, he never anticipated that what he’d come up with would hold true for the next forty years. What he posited was that–promise me you won’t stop reading as I veer off shortly–the number of transistors placed on integrated circuit boards would double every two years “approximately.” Listening to a story on NPR this afternoon, the laws relevance holds true in more fields than just integrated circuitry. Charles Thacker, winner of the 2010 AM Turing award (often called the Nobel Prize of Computing) explained how Moore’s law guided decisions broadly in his industry.

The idea of Moore’s law as a driving force for smart change is one that Thacker explained took root in his mind. He forced himself to think two years ahead rather than where he was comfortable. Innovation became something more than just a serendipitous event, it was required constantly.

Curiosity and exploration bred the modern personal computer as we know and accept it today. Four decades ago, computers were hulking masses run by teams of people for small focused tasks. Today, the computers we know fit in our pockets, are individualized for each of us based on our needs and wants.

What did education look like four decades ago? I’m not certain it looked very different. Largely, there has been little change in our profession aside from maybe the addition of computers (pardon my generalization). In education too, we need to learn to innovate before it’s necessary and anticipate change. Right now, we aren’t even doing a very good job of reacting to the world around us, much less plan ahead. When we teach our students to be proactive, what kind of model are we providing for them?

Yes, we plan ahead in terms of our managerial duties as educators, but what kinds of transformational change are we planning for? What if education changed drastically every two years like microprocessors? What if parents, teachers, and communities expected continual growth from schools rather than stagnation? I think it’s safe to say people would like continual growth, but there is some disconnect between what we would all like for our schools and what we are doing to get there.

How do you think transformational change can be effected in public schools? Is it possible to foster continual growth on the same 45 degree incline as Intel? Share your thoughts!

3 thoughts on “Moore’s Law

  1. I agree with your premise, but I don’t know that we know what our students will be faced with even two years from now. I think we need to focus our kids on problem-solving and thinking critically, so that they are prepared to use the tools that are available in the future.

    This has been a perpetual problem in education…educators tend to prepare kids for the world they came from, not even the current reality, let alone the future.

  2. Thank you for your input Addie! In my experience it is exactly as you say, we prepare them based on our past not on their future. I’m not sure we even always understand what our past experiences in education consist of. It needs to be something discussed openly with a mind for change. We will never know exactly what the future holds, but we can make an effort to anticipate and, as you say, teach and engage in critical thinking.

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