Saturday, October 14, 2006

enlightened pedagogy

arti's curriculum lament led to me thinking more about monks and motor cars.

I see the curriculum as the control mechanism that central authorities won't give up. Not sure whether I can be bothered trying to reclaim "their" word.

Curriculum seems to be a School based word, rather than a Learning word. If you put a motor in a carriage, it's then called a car, so I might be on to something. Or, if an enlightened monk had used a printing press to churn out simulations of hand written Bibles, then would that have delayed the separation of Church and State? Will the schools of the future, if they are still called schools, have a curriculum or will they just be Learning environments, or some such thing?

I have always instinctively avoided electronic whiteboards, as a modern day coach with a motor added. I was happy to see my old logo friend, Gary Stager, agree in his Jump the Shark paper:
“Intelligent” white boards may appear as cost-effective strategies for advancing a school’s technological capability, yet these Pre-Gutenberg technologies may ultimately reinforce the worst of existing classroom practices. They reinforce the dominance of the front of the room and omniscience of the teacher. Facilitating increased lecturing and reducing education to notes on a board represents a step backwards. We should question the widespread appeal of these products. The sales success of clever furniture is undeniable, but its actual use is less clear.
At Cairns, ACEC, it was suggested that enlightened pedagogy, the art of teaching, should lead the way in front of technology.

It's hard to refute this but it is not a mechanical one way truth. Good teachers are good teachers and ought to be in control of the learning environment and understand the needs of their students. But good teachers also need to know when to get out of the way of capable students, to let them do their thing. Then the student works with the technology to produce something great. The good teacher starts that, the student and the technology finish it off.

It's also difficult for enlightened pedagogy to lead the way when school systems are shutting down (regulating) technological innovation, destroying the new soil that nourishes the pedagogical flower.

Recently, I've seen and heard about "web2.0" innovators banning the use of electronic devices during their high powered web2.0 presentations. I can't even remember their reasons for doing this. My built in BS detector flipped the circuit breaker before their reasons came out.

The real spirit of technological innovation originates from outside of education. The internet was invented by the military in preparation for a Soviet nuclear first strike. The www was invented to improve scientific research at CERN. These people had real problems to solve.

Of course schools have real problems to solve too. It's just that they don't appear to be as urgent. I think that strategically, we have to put our minds outside of the School, in order to rethink it. I still think educational bloggers ought to read more non educational blogs. It would have helped the monks too.

I like the Mission statement of The Berkman Center for Internet and Society, with its emphasis on learning about cyberspace by building for themselves in cyberspace. Learning dynamically by construction and reflection.
The Berkman Center's mission is to explore and understand cyberspace, its development, dynamics, norms, standards, and need or lack thereof for laws and sanctions.

We are a research center, premised on the observation that what we seek to learn is not already recorded. Our method is to build out into cyberspace, record data as we go, self-study, and publish. Our mode is entrepreneurial nonprofit.
It would be nice to have a government school with a mission statement like that. Why not? You would easily get the teachers, parents and students. The only real barrier is the government, or is it, the curriculum?

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