March 8th, 2013

Liberate the Learners

Seymour Papert (1998):

The presence of digital technologies is rapidly moving us into a period where learners can learn what they need to know on their own agenda rather than on the predetermined agenda of a curriculum. We will soon be able to give up the assembly line model of grade after grade, exercise after exercise.

It would be naive to believe this could happen without resistance from the education establishment—which includes several multibillion-dollar sectors of the education industry as well as huge bureaucracies with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. I grant that most people who make and apply curriculums are underpaid and motivated by the welfare of children. But this does not alter the fact that present-day schools, to which…they have to cater in order to sell their products, are relics from an earlier period of knowledge technology.

I think the emphasis now has to be on the transition. We know from where have come. The question is where we end up. At the core, it’s about how we provide the cultures and systems and supports that marry the public good of community schools with the powerful freedom to learn which we and our children in connected spaces now enjoy. (And, importantly, how we extend that freedom to those who don’t yet have access to it.) 

Next week, let’s spring forward on more than just the clock. 

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