Sometimes the control of fire is said to be the pivotal discovery of humankind, sometimes it is said to be writing or agriculture. Going back further in time, we can point to bipedalism that freed our hands and speech that developed our minds and allowed greater cooperation and understanding. All of these elements
contribute to humans being able to think both logically and imaginatively and we do.
There are still about one sixth of humankind that cannot read and write. Being literate has been considered a basis for education for at least a couple of centuries even though we now have means to communicate facts and ideas by images and sounds, movies and voices.
We are entering a time when schooling is part of a complete childhood and the years of what might be considered standard schooling are extending. In the US, going through 12 years of schooling is increasingly considered inadequate. There is plenty of impressive data that shows the intellectual and financial worth of 4 years of college and many occupations involve time beyond college in graduate school and post-doctoral programs.
The development of elementary school, secondary school, college, graduate school and other sorts of schooling, training, and apprenticing has actually been somewhat haphazard and disorganized. But it is clear that schooling matters. I think we can expect the path of schooling to undergo modification and innovation. Our evidence as to what schooling and what knowledge is of most worth is sketchy.
Worldwide, educators and observers are seeing a need for schooling that does not merely concentrate on producing graduates that know answers. Increasingly, we are seeing that none of us know the answers and that we not only need to develop better questions but that our most important questions and the best answers we have to those questions keep changing.
It is clear that if we encourage and teach critical and imaginative thinking, we get more people who think for themselves. That means that we get a wider range of opinions and motivations. We still have a basic tendency to think we have thought out our paths carefully and conscientiously and that those who disagree with our opinion are in error. I think the large and growing worldwide interest in knowledge and ideas leads to a large and growing worldwide need for tolerance of disagreement. I am confident we are going to see more of it.