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Why you should read this…

October 6, 2006

The New Face Of Learning Will Richardson.

If ever there was a document that deserves the “must read” tag, it is this one. Will Richardson has written the clarion call for the Web2.0 generation and asks the really uncomfortable question: is what we are teaching irrelevant?

There are any number of points to be drawn from the article, and I recommend you read the original… here are some of my thoughts on why.

…nothing like what’s happening in traditional classrooms…

Richardson opens with some questions about the impact of Web2.0 tools that cannot help but resonate with anyone who uses them… and we need to remember that, with regards to that usage, we are still the minority of the population. Richardson soon relates this new way of working to the classroom with his observation that he has been led to “…new technologies and techniques that leverage this newfound network in ways that look nothing like what’s happening in traditional classrooms.” This is the first of many warning shots he fires across the bows of schools as they are. We need to be aware that knowledge and its dissemination and value are changing, but the means by which we spread knowledge in schools is still rooted in the past.

The Dangers of Atrophication

I was reminded of a comment made by Edward de Bono in his SETT keynote (It’s at about 09:28 on the video).  de Bono was talking about why Chinese civilization failed to capitalise on the early lead it had in technology and learning. He puts it down to an inability on the part of scholars to consider the science of ‘possibilities’. Instead, they believed that society and learning would proceed from certainty to certainty. This lack of imagination led to, I suppose, the atrophication of Chinese society which in turn made room for the subsequent rise of Western society. In highlighting the inadequacies of the traditional classroom, Richardson’s key point is reminiscent of the Chinese experience outlined by de Bono… the question we need to ask is if we are willing to think of the possibilities and make the necessary changes in our practice to prevent atrophication.

This places a massive responsibility on us as web literate educators. By dint of the fact you are reading this, you are already aware of the possibilities… but what about the people in the classroom next door?

I think we are living in a period where the rules are being rewritten… and not by those who have traditionally held the power to make those changes. As Richardson points out so clearly, as educators we “…can feel the potential…” but what are we doing? We are blocking and filtering the tools the pupils are already using and are going to continue using… we need to be cleverer than that. We cannot tell the pupils that these tools are irrelevant, we need to be adopting them and finding out how they can help us as teachers to work smarter…

Read Will Richardson’s article, then email it to a colleague and ask for their comments… and then get them to do the same. Use the article to start conversations about where social networking is going. Be ready to defend the points Richardson makes, but most of all, be ready to embrace the tools and the science of possibilities. Without this approach, we will be left behind by the pupils we are supposed to be leading…

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 6, 2006 7:51 am

    Here, here…… You have made some really interesting points. I missed de-Bono talk a SETT but watched the video streaming of it last night. I like how you have compared the work of Will Richardson and de-Bono to draw your own conclusions. You have inspired me to have aread of the New face of Learning.

  2. October 8, 2006 12:38 am

    Thanks for your kind comments. I had to drop out of the blogosphere for a week or so (except for the odd comment here and there) and feared noone would notice if I started posting again, so thanks for noticing, and thanks for the comment.

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