How do you measure the personal value of such a succesful event as the Global Summit hosted by Education.au? As John Connell pointed out so well, we had the opportunity to meet such a good group of leaders as well as practitioners, and we had the chance to engage in deep dialogue for two whole days. I was thrilled to have the opportunity!
However for me the highlight of the second day was the opportunity to see and hear Geetha Narayanan. Gerry White of Education.au said to me just before the start of the session that Geetha would be wonderful. I expected clever, or good ideas, or something along those lines. What we got was humbling and inspiring all in one magical combination.
Geetha has dedicated her life to finding and establishing new modesl of learning that are creative, synergistic and original in their approach. To know that she worked for many years with Seymour Papert indicates the type of thinking that energises her work. Geetha talked fervently about bringing people, technology and learning together within a new conceptual framework.
She suggests that what predominates is conventional thinking.WE need to ask more of technology. Can new technologies create a sense of well-being? Rather brilliantly, she argued against the ‘flat-land’ rhetoric of the digital age.
Working with literacy in the slums Geetha has moved to a new Project Vision, and is working with a hypotheses that embraces an ideology of critical pedagogy through media arts.
Now that we can do anything what will we do?
As a Science Fiction buff, I particularly enjoyed Geetha’s use of the movie Matrix, and the choices that Neo was asked to make being used as methaphor for significant life-shaping decisions.
She told us that there is NO better example of personal choice than that portrayed by Neo in the matrix – the choice between red and blue pills – the question is what will you choose?
BLUE PILL: if we concsioulsy make that choice it will leave us in the secure, routine, everyday, conventional thinking. We will stay as we are with habits and secure in the safety of our beliefs.
RED PILL: represents critical and transformatory thning – it involves risk, doubt, and questioning. The blue pill, will leave us as we are , in a life consisting of habit and secure in the safety of our beliefs.
So let’s ask ourselves
What is the truth and reality I want? Where is it that I want to go?
Personas of Practice (practicing teachers) Geetha’s description of the kind of characteristics she sees in educators:
Nothing can or should change people – back to basics movement in education type of people. Sequential thinking. Perspective on culture is classical. Value technology as tool so long as it is in the right place – lab, specialist, computer studies teachers. They privilege the authority of the printed word. Promote drill and practice. Cannot trust internet information
Come from a wide range of disciplines. World view is that a combination of speed and simultaneity and virtual simulation and distributed cognition will facilitate survival in 21st century world. Information is key and must proceed learning to deliver promise. Use research on brain, learning styles, constructivism etc to foster project-based inter-diciplinary approach to education. Technology must soak into the culture of the school. Endorse the inventive and innovative mind
Settle for the latest fads and fashions in education. Interest in technology is short-lived and transient. Imitate skeptics and evangelist, with their style of verve. ‘state of the art’ is there logo. Brochures reflect rhetoric on technology learning. Education is like a shopping mall or theme park. No original position on culture. Engage in bricolage. Tinker. Preserving and innovating culture is not part of their brief. Such school can hire an event manager to deliver and promote.
Geetha refers to conventional thinking as having resulted in bricolage of learning with technology that preserves and perpetuates everyday schooling. It is a qualitative patter of thinking that has stabilized our current schooling.
ON the other hand, Geetha’s typology is very specific and vital to crafting a new approach to learning. She asks us to consider deeply what the impact of the technologicl revolution on society and education really is.
What I was particularly interested in and will pursue further were her key focus points and explanations of the following:
- literacy as code
- ways of world-making or sense-making
- the impact of vulnerabilities or deprivations
- the value of capabilities or substantive freedoms
- the consideration of linkages, networks, and flows in our society
- our status of “freefall” – culture of immediacy (Stuart Brand, Clock of the long Now)
- fast knowledge
- knowledge which is valued because it is measured.
- The error of no distinction between information and knowledge
- The need for the right information at right time
- The fact that intangible knowledge is (unfortunately) considered irrelevant
- That Content is considered as the only relevant source/formof learning
- That the cultural impact of this view has been a negative and the professional knowledge of school teachers has been increasingly disconnected from their very valuable tacit knowledge base
- The major problem of alienation or our tacit knowledge base
THE SLOW SCHOOL
My favourite learning…Geetha explained that deep and systemic change is representative of ‘punctuated’ evolutionary approach – one that is reverse engineering – moving education to a view that encourages slowness and wholeness to become living institutions.
Slowness as an idea. Frames of reference for today – one that centres the wellbeing of the individual, the community and environement.
Slowness is not just an antidote to fast knowledge, it is a reaction to it.
Slowness is a value that works at the level of knowelge, culture, and preserves culture and heritage.
Slow schools – move beyond unnecessary digital access and unnecessary access to digitized information. They truely embedd and use technology for slow learning – deep, critical, responsive, personalised learning.