I ventured into a short discussion the notion, introduced to me by Ron Burnett, of the ‘radical impossibility of teaching’. If we start from the assumption that ‘learning never progresses along a simple one-way road from ignorance to knowledge’, and if we know that learning ‘can never be reduced to the way information and ideas are structured for communication’, then we cannot in good faith continue to peddle a pedagogy that is based precisely on such misapprehensions. We need to consider and develop pedagogies that move us decisively away from ‘models of human thinking and models of the mind that could best be described as functionalist and reductive in orientation.”
This took me very easily into the issue of passion. A system of schooling that does not allow learners to bring their passions firmly inside the classroom is not fulfilling it fundamental role. Using the thoughts of John Seely Brown as a starting point, I spoke of how som many young people are schooled in a context that does not permit them to share their passions or to develop their passions other than when they are not in school.
There are pockets, many interesting and varied pockets, of imaginative thinking in education across the world. One such is in that small enclave of Australian education currently led by Greg Whitby (mentioned above) in Parramatta. I am able to watch and listen to what is happening in Parramatta through the words of Judy O’Connell in her blog, HeyJude. Judy recently referred to a very interesting session led by Yoram Harpaz in which he worked with the team in Parramatta to go back to fundamental questions about the purpose of education and the pedagogies that work in the modern circumstance.
In speaking about Web 2.0, I referred to the report from JISC, written by Paul Anderson, on “What is Web 2.0:Ideas, Technologies and Implications for Education”. I contrasted the views of Andrew Keen and David Weinberger, between the ‘Cult of the Amateur’ and ‘Everything is Miscellaneous’ (and made my preference for the latter obvious – for instance, I did not say that David Weinberger has the kind of face you just want to slap, but Andrew Keen…..). Also pointed to the Educause/New Media Consortium Report “New Horizons 2007″ which looks at possible future trends in Web 2.0 in education and scholarship.
Given the theme of the ACEL Conference, I highlighted the interesting experiment in leadership currently being conducted by Don Ledingham, in East Lothian Education, in Scotland. Some initial outline of Don’s philosophy and his practice can be gleaned from a number of his blog posts:
As final thoughts, I first of all spoke of the optimism and hope that is invested in education (and connected education in particular) in places such as Liberia, and across the developing world.
I finished with my favourite quote, on the non-neutrality of science (which I extend to education and technology) by Richard Feynman: “To every man is given the kay to the gates of heaven; the same key opens the gates of hell.”