Shulamith Firestone Predicts the Future

“Yes, but what about basic skills?  How, for example, could a child with no formal sequential training enter an advanced curriculum like architecture?  But traditional book learning, the memorizing of facts, which forms the most substantial portion of the curriculum of our elementary schools, will be radically altered under the impact of cybernetics – a qualitative difference, to the apparatus of culture at least as significant a change as was the printing press, even as important as the alphabet.  McLuhan pointed out the beginning of a reversal from literary to visual means of absorbing knowledge.  We can expect the escalation of this and other effects with the further development of modern media for the rapid transmittal of information.  And the amount of rote knowledge necessary either for children or adults will itself be vastly reduced, for we shall have computer banks within easy reach.  After all, why store facts in one’s head when computer banks could supply more comprehensive information instantaneously?  (Already yesterday’s children wondered why they must learn multiplication tables rather than the operation of an adding machine.)  Whatever mental storing of basic facts is still necessary can be quickly accomplished through new mechanical methods, teaching machines, records and tapes, and so on, which, when they become readily available, would allow the abolition of compulsory schooling for basic skills.  Like foreign students in the pursuit of a specialized profession, the child can pick up any necessary basic ‘language’ on the side, through these supplementary machine methods.  But it is more likely that the fundamental skills and knowledge necessary will be the same for adults as for children: skill in operating new machines.  Programming skills may become universally required, but rather than through years of nine-to-five memorizing, they could be absorbed instantly, only when required by a specific discipline.”

The Dialectics of Sex

Okay so it hasn’t played out exactly this way, but still, pretty prescient.  And if her view of the future is what we have in store, then oh boy, shit’s about to get real.

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