Thursday, February 01, 2007

slogans that resonate

Steve Hargadon has created a School 2.0 wiki. On the wiki there is a School 2.0 Manifesto which consists of a series of one line thought provoking statements, with links to further elaboration.

I added some one liners in a comment to Christopher Sessums blog, who is supporting this effort. Here are my one liners, with some elaborations (I hope to do more elaborations later):
  • one laptop per child
Elaboration: If the third world can have one laptop per child then why can't the first and second worlds?
  • search is the opposite of sit and listen
  • support the rights of the child to explore new technology
Elaboration: The child shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child's choice. (Article 13, UN Convention on the Rights of the Child)
  • a risk free society is very dangerous
  • learn to be free (pinched from Chrisopher Harvey's old blog but he taken it down now)
  • isn't a mobile phone a learning device?
  • who should define the curriculum? (this last one is too broad)
  • eat your own dogfood
I'd like to do a bit more critical analysis of the slogans at Steve's wiki, from the perspective of whether connectivism is sufficient as a theory or viewpoint to incorporate them all. Analysing the slogans that have been thrown up might be a good way to figure out the current "spirit of our age"

I just spent some time going through the slogans and trying to understand the thinking behind them.

One big theme is freedom talk, with the related ideas of tearing down existing school walls and escaping to the rich (often digital) landscape outside, of opening wide, providing far more choice and being transparent in what we do (dot points 4-11).

Although it is true that we are more connected than ever before in our history there is nothing new about the ideas being promoted here. Many educational reformers have long promoted the idea that School is a form of gaol and radical reform has long been on their agenda. However, the fact we are now far more connected, communicating and collaborating, does make it more possible to realise this dream.

Another theme which is repeated over an over is the importance of conversation. This is sometimes connected to the idea that questions are more important than answers.

Again, there is nothing new about this. For example, one of Papert's principles of mathetics was that "a good conversation promotes learning". All learning theories that try to put direct instruction into the background (and there are many of them) highlight the importance of conversation. Once again a great idea that is not new.

Christian Long's slogans are more complicated and I would need to spend more time with them to understand what he is getting at. Sorry, this is a bit rushed.

A theme which for some reason surprised me in Christopher Sessums slogans (which were more sequential than some of the others) was about keeping all stakeholders informed and supported, followed by the suggestion that schools fear public and open disclosure, that schools might be broken and hiding it. Read his whole blog to do it justice.

Here are some of the slogans which I either liked or which intrigued me:
  • The fear of what might go wrong can't stop us from doing what is right
  • What we want to teach we must become (this reminded me of "eat your own dogfood" which I have used before)
  • You can regulate the worst of abuses out of a system, but you can never regulate goodness or excellence because goodness and excellence comes from the hearts and minds of people within the system - Tom Sobol
  • We participate, therefore we are - John Seely Brown
  • When rules of usage are top-down and policy driven they disenfranchise users. Rules that regulate usage should be decided by users themselves who then self-manage their activity.
  • Many schools operate out of fear of their constituencies and stakeholders. Many schools are afraid what the public would say if they knew what was going on inside.
I need to do some more thinking about this but it seems clear to me that the connection metaphor does not really cut the hard stuff. How to overcome the risk free society mentality? What do you do when those privileged by the current system resist? How to bring out the best in people? Will teachers lead the change or will it happen from outside of schools, or by a student underground, or some sort of combination? Will the change be incremental or sudden, a reform or a revolution? These are complex social and political questions requiring analysis. Connection as a metaphor is too simple.


Bill Kerr said...

I had some more ideas for slogans.

"we use language to author ourselves, assisted by many co-authors as we grow up" (I think this originates from Daniel Dennett)

Also as part of another conversation I visited the Nietzsche quote site again today and think these are relevant:

"All things are subject to interpretation whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth"

"On the mountains of truth you can never climb in vain: either you will reach a point higher up today, or you will be training your powers so that you will be able to climb higher tomorrow"

"One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star"

"Our treasure lies in the beehive of our knowledge. We are perpetually on the way thither, being by nature winged insects and honey gatherers of the mind"

"The doer alone learneth"

"The press, the machine, the railway, the telegraph are premises whose thousand-year conclusion no one has yet dared to draw"

"There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy"

"You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist"

Some slogans are good but have a timeless quality, they are good for any era, a bit like some of Bob Dylan's songs. He didn't write a protest song about the Vietnam war but he wrote very good general anti war lyrics like: "How many times will a cannon ball fly, before they are forever banned?" So this one from the School 2.0 site:

"If we teach today's students as we taught yesterday's then we rob them of tomorrow" - John Dewey

was relevant in Dewey's time and is just as relevant now.

Bill Kerr said...

I found time to read Chris Long's manifesto .

I like
1. "Playing Small Does Not Serve the World."-- Your Brain is Your Brand.


6. Look it Up or Die.

but you need to go to his blog and read his elaborations too.

I particularly like his note at the end about using his manifesto as a stimulus for spreading the "future of learning" idea around further

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