Tag Archives: authentic learning

In a world in which information is like air, what happens to power?

JP Rangaswarmi  wrote a post about Us Now, a one-hour documentary by Ivo Gormley about participative citizenship, mass collaboration and the internet, and their implications on government as we know it.

The Us Now website links to the thinkers asked to determine the opportunity for government in the radical new models of social organisation. Some of these are George Osbourne, Ed Milliband, Don Tapscott and Clay Shirky.

It’s interesting to follow the new democracy that online social organisations have opened up. More than interesting. As stated in the Us Now website, ‘In a world in which information is like air, who has the power?’

The Us Now blog includes interesting information by Paul Miller from the School of Everything. The School of Everything is a social learning network that connects people who can teach with people who want to learn.

Having been led to read about the School of Everything, and linked to Wikinomics through Paul Miller, I started to think about how, on the whole, we accept schools as the way to go with learning and trust them with our kids. My father, who completed his school education at the age of  14 so that he could get a trade and contribute to family finances, revered Education as a hallowed institution. Throughout my schooling, though, he had moments of disillusionment when I was unable to understand the politics in the TV news report, when I was useless at practical things or what he termed as ‘common sense’, or when I started philosophy and started questioning whether the table was really there. My own experiences as a parent saw me disillusioned at times when my older son was told to dumb down by the primary school psychologist so that he could more easily fit in, and even now, fighting  frustration when my younger son is instructed not to cut and paste, but to use his own words in a project that simply asks for basic facts about a country.

I have friends who have home schooled their children. Is this an option? Hasn’t  home tutoring been one of the ways to educate young people throughout history? And yet, these options have always made me nervous. Maybe because I was told my children would be socially impaired without normal social contact with their peers. Or maybe simply because it wasn’t the norm, and therefore frightening.

I’ve just had a conversation about this and alternative schooling with my older son who has completed year 12 recently. He’s a good example of a passionately curious child who stood out from ‘normal’ children and suffered for it in his primary years, but eventually toned down to fit in. It was interesting to see him become defensive and uncomfortable when I mentioned the School of Everything and questioned the relevance of traditional schooling.

No, you can’t have that, he protested.

Why  not? 

Well, it’s not all about learning of content, it’s about being with people and learning from them.

Who said that an alternative or online learning program excluded face to face contact or social opportunities?

OK, well, you can’t just do your own thing. You have to learn that not everything in life is interesting.

Tell me, how many teachers did you find boring and unengaging, and how much of your schooling have you retained or found valuable in life?

(squirm) But you can’t have life without suffering. You need to learn to cope with disillusionment and disengagment. You can’t totally remove it.

I’m not going to unpack this. I’m just going to ask you to give me your thoughts.

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