A favorite game of mine was “Sim City” (the old version), where as mayor, you get a chance to build a bustling metropolis, full of promise. Very soon you learn a valuable lesson: With good choices come not-so-good outcomes.
Although Sim City was a simulation, one cannot help but wonder how a real city could be built? For example, Urban Planning and Policy have always formulated plans to build better cities and communities. But I’ve noticed, often removed from their design, is a blueprint for building “A Learning City.”
The phrase has gained international appeal that speaks to the economic impact of education in society, where individuals are referred as “human capital” and education depicted as a “product with expected results.”
The learning city that I’m talking about goes a step farther. A step where K-12 elementary and secondary education as well as college and higher education are not the sole responsibility of educators, but an entire community including parents, families, businesses, organizations, and governments.
Such a city would view individuals as not only human capital, but as many have argued, also social and cultural capital. Social capital accepts an individual’s diversity and uniqueness, while cultural capital includes a supportive environment that embraces different approaches to education and learning.
In this way, a learning city continues to learn through its citizens, where education and learning is ongoing, continual, and lifelong. The alternative outcome takes its challenges as learning opportunities to evolve into real-world examples for societies to emulate.