I mentioned a PBS documentary that was airing in the US called New Learners of the 21st Century. One of those interviewed was John Seely Brown who has been researching the role of emerging technology and learning particularly the aspect of play and collaboration.
Brown and Douglas Thomas have recently published a New Culture of Learning in which they propose a new paradigm for schooling which does not separate the learner from the world but looks at what schools must do to adapt to this new way of learning. The paradigm is built on access to a rich virtual world of resources and information.
While I haven’t had a chance to read this yet, I did read Steve Denning‘s Q&A, and believe the authors have been able to articulate what is a relevant and innovate 21st century education. Cathy Davidson, co-founder of HASTAC calls Thomas and Brown the ‘John Dewey of the digital age.’
One of the critical points they make is that learning is not about the answers but the questions, it’s not about the knowledge but the experimentation. It is not about control, it is about liberation, and chaos theory may be a better building block than a structural functionalist approach.
This isn’t about looking at schooling through a new lens but turning everything we know inside out and upside down. The answers to the pressing challenge of providing a relevant contemporary schooling experience are not to be found in the past.
They will be found today and tomorrow by professional group of practitioners committed to ongoing learning and reflection on that learning. This builds innovation and capacity. Why are we fearful of the unknown when we have the potential to find new ways of schooling?