27 June 2007

Connecting to the Future

Ever since I saw My first episode of Connections, I have been a fan of science historian/populist James Burke. Burke is currently developing a website called Knowledge Web, a hyper-Wikipedia of interconnected science, thought and history to enhance learning and scientific creativity.

Thanks to Creative Generalist, I found out about a recent interview of Burke for the podcast-rich Stranova Blog in which he said things I heartily agree with:

The problem, it seems to me, with modern education is that it's 17th century education. It's still alive and kicking too much. We take little kids and we spend their entire lives preparing them to be successful by learning more and more about less and less. In the present century, our brains know a fantastic amount about almost nothing…

It seems to me - and I risk the ire of every academic - that taking knowledge from this academic point of view is doing society a disservice in the sense that what we need in the next 100 years… is how to get people to think creatively. It is no longer a sign of intelligence that someone can remember things. It should no longer be a test of things if they can give the right answer. Because the right answer is often the least creative one and the one least likely to get you flak from your tutor. You see, in creative thinking you often make mistakes. If you make mistakes in specialist reductionist learning you fail and if you don't get the degree you are unintelligent. Well, that's self-evidently nonsense!

So if remembering things is no longer as valuable as it once was, what is? Here’s the answer, from the increasingly-useful The Long Tail blog:

(I)n a world of infinite choice, content is only as valuable as your ability to find it. (Emphasis added.) They call that "context and aggregation", and it's what both Google and your favorite blogger do when the filter the web according to a narrow lens, be it your expressed search term or their own sensibility.

But does Our educational system see this? Of course not. Do Our teachers embrace technology so they can use it as a 21st century tool? Of course not. In the current Webtech world, they are Neanderthals and the “highly-evolved” are kids and teenagers. So what does that imply? Here’s the conclusion, from the Connectivism blog:

Students should drive curriculum. This is a challenging concept. Partly for educators, partly for student, partly for society… A pure self-guided model of learning is not one that matches well with how academic institutions are structured. The learner's exploration of curriculum is where we can innovate.

Will this happen? Pigs will melt in hell first…unless We begin making the changes needed in Our own way, bypassing the fossilized mis-educational system and creating Our own learning environment. The tools are there, the knowledge to make it work is available…what’s needed is the will to truly secure Our children’s future instead of watching it slide down a filthy drain.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

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