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Posts Tagged ‘education

I read Lisa Lane’s lament The internet’s not for learning?

After reflecting on an Economist article on how people use the Internet, she reflected:

People everywhere do the same thing: use the internet mostly for “timepass” – passing the time by communicating with friends and family, playing games, and watching videos. I’m not saying these things don’t cause learning. They do. But the purpose is entertainment and emotional satisfaction, not becoming an educated citizen.

It just serves to remind me how truly wide the gulf is between those who value education for its long-term benefits, and those who just want to pass the time. Are the people who get satisfaction from intellectual challenges rare? If so, will the smartphones make them even more rare?

She concluded that there was still so much more trivial consumption than meaningful self-education.

About a week ago, I might have expressed myself with the same resignation. But between then and now, I have been listening to podcasts that have tweaked my outlook.

Who is to say that a general utility must have a specific use? Who can insist that cars only be used when optimally occupied and configured so as to transport only the best to school or work? There is still much aimless, irresponsible, and even dangerous car use.

Who says that the Internet must be harnessed for self-improvement? Well, not many, really. But more are likely to hope that it be used to make lives better.

Like Lane, I do not object to that ideal. Like Lane, I recognise that self-education and improvement does happen, but not nearly as much as educators might want. So I remind myself of my role by seeking answers to two questions:

  1. Who is to say that a general tool must grow to have this specific use?
  2. What can I do to promote specific uses (like education) of this general tool?

In a few months time, I have the privilege of resurrecting a short course on inclusive education with ICT.

As I always have my radar on, my feeds produced two resources I might be able to use.

The first is a news article that might reinforce a more progressive view on special needs and inclusive education. But it is locked behind a paywall and all my learners might not have this newspaper subscription.

Video source

The second is a YouTube video that might not have an obvious link to my course. What does a 16-year-old environmental activist and Nobel prize nominee have to do with inclusive education?

After watching the video I found out that Greta Thunberg has Asperger Syndrome. Hers is an example of how everyday technology (e.g., social media) enables identity and passion.

The availability of the video over the news article also illustrates the reach and accessibility of some learning resources over others. Some providers shoot themselves in the foot and disable themselves.

When I read the tweet below, my mind wandered to a difference between schooling and education.

A primary function of schooling is the enculturation of children so that they fit in the societal box. Education is the collective effort of actualisation to fit the individual.

Schooling is about enculturation. Education is about self-actualisation.

We need both, but there is an imbalance.

Schooling is arguably the easier of the two to plan and implement, so that gets emphasised. Education is left largely to time, life, and circumstance. Unfortunately, each person’s lot in life is unequal and inequitable.

Schooling and education overlap, but they are not synonymous. If we realise the differences, we might work towards actually improving education instead of merely reinventing schooling.

Much of schooling is still about expecting one process and a model answer. Just like the question above.

It does not forgive alternatives even though they might be based on reality. Just like the answer to the question above.

Schooling is about making students provide the correct answers. Education is about developing learners who can generate more than one answer.

This is not about creating a false dichotomy because we need both. The problem is not recognising when we need each and how much of it is needed.

The video below explains the differences between modern music videos and educational ones. In doing so, it works less as a how-to and more as a warning not to blindly ape popular methods.

Video source

Fortunately, those of us who live and work in the realms of schooling and education do not have the time or inclination to make educational videos more like music videos.

Unfortunately, this has not stopped leaders and administrators from adopting concepts and practices from other fields, e.g., return on investment, best practices, being like Uber or AirBnB or Amazon of education.

I am all for learning about how others operate. I am not for trying to transfer or apply those ideas devoid of history or context.

I can tell when work gets in the way of learning — my readings pile up as open tabs in my browser or are marked unread in my Feedly reader. This is even more apparent when I do not react to and reflect on what I read, watch, or listen to.

Here are just two examples of open tabs in my Mac:

Lecture capture
On 21 Sep, Martin Weller shared his thoughts on lecture capture. Weller hooked me in with “don’t fight it, feel it”.

My first instinct was to fight it because that is what I stood against when I was a university faculty member and then head of group that led the way with progressive pedagogies.

Weller provided a broad and balanced series on points, and I agree with one operating principle that I will sum up as: Think about what lecture capture (or any technology for that matter) means for the learner and learning.

We might disagree fundamentally on the effectiveness of lectures, but we definitely are focused on the learner and learning.

Side effects of evidence-based education
Yong Zhao is not one to shy away from saying something controversial about education and he has the ammunition to back his words up.

His blog entry on 7 Oct was the introduction of his new book, What Works Can Hurt: Side Effects in Education. After listing examples of medications that were accompanied with warning labels, he wondered why educational products and interventions did not also come with such warnings.

In Singapore’s context, we have warnings not to take too much Panadol, but were not warned about how our notion and implementation of meritocracy could stratified society. Hindsight is clearer than foresight, but that is not Yong Zhao’s message.

While Yong Zhao compared the education systems in China and the USA, his message rings true for Singapore as we strive for evidence-based education: Interventions and their measures look for the positive and intended effects, not the side and dire effects.

If we are to be an example to the rest of the world, we need to embrace not just the plaudits, but also the brickbats.

If nothing else gets in the way of some reading and reflection, I might share some thoughts on the other open tabs on my browser.

It is strange what the newspaper considers physical education (PE).

When did PE become structured time for sports during what is already short recess? Does the school extend recess? How does walking outside school with Google Maps count as “outdoor adventure” and PE?

Modern PE, anyone?

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