I’m in the throes of research for a next book, and I’ve been going back to my highlighted, starred, underlined, exclamation pointed parts of The World is Flat in my idea collection process. I’m impressed at how well the implications for education seem to be holding together. Anyway, I came across this one starred part that I hadn’t remembered, a section titled “From Command and Contral to Collaborate and Connect.” I’m going to sub-in some of my own phrasing in italics, but I think there’s an interesting point made here:
This is what happens when you move from a vertical (command and control) educational system to a much more horizontal (connect and collaborate) flat educational system. Your student can do his and your job…Students, if they are inclined, can collaborate more directly with more of their peers than ever before no matter who they are or where they are in the world…But teachers will also have to work much harder to be better informed than their students. There are a lot more conversations between students and teachers today that start like this: “I know that already! I Googled it myself. Now what do I do about it? (212)”
The intellectual relationships and roles we have with our students are changing. I’m just sayin’…
technorati tags:teaching, learning, education, weblogg-ed, WorldIsFlat
Perhaps we’ve finally come full circle to Socrates once once more. Teaching isn’t about being the answerbook for our students; it’s about asking the right questions, so that they can find the answers for themselves.
Diane Quirk says
Yes, kids can find lots of information by Googling it or by going to wikipedia or to any other of millions of sources. And it’s because we have such a vast amount of information sources that we should be concentrating on “Now what do I do about it?” This is where the pedagogy comes in – we help students think their way through and out of all the information that’s available to them. As Lisa says – asking the right questions and also teaching our students to ask the right questions as well.
John Connell says
I wonder, Will, if, as I heard a Cisco VP say recently, the world is still a bit ‘bumpy’ in many places? Friedman’s basic thesis is correct, I believe, but the ‘flattening’ process will go on for a very long time to come.
However, you are right that the shift from command and control to connect and collaborate has to happen – if not, schools will quickly become irrelevant to those they serve. Rather than teachers having to ‘work much harder to be better informed than their students’, I think that teachers should accord their students the respect they deserve by acknowledging that they are all learners together, both teachers and students. In this scenario, I believe that the prime asset of the teacher is no longer knowledge but wisdom – the teacher is now a learner who can bring all his or her extra years of life and experience to the learning process. In this, I agree wholeheartedly with Diane’s earlier comment.
I strongly agree with your idea that our world as educators is changing. Probably it has already changed, but we haven’t had to respond strongly, yet.
Socrates aside, the basic pedagogical model,at least in the United States, has been the “sage on the stage.” Most of us had those kinds of teachers as models at all levels of education, in my case pretty much through graduate school.
So, the revolution has to begin, I am convinced, with ourselves. Locating ourselves as centers of change and in redefining what it means to teach and learn.
I am happy to have companions on this journey.
Kyle Brumbaugh says
I am looking at a ‘mashup’ of the ideas I have gleaned from yourself, David Warlick and Alan November. It was approximately a year ago, when I attended a small workshop where Alan was the speaker and introduced me to ‘The World is Flat.’ In the interim, I have done a lot of work to define what a ‘flat classroom’ (stealing from David Warlick) is? We have started a ‘Global Communicationsâ€™ class and program at the school and while it is a work in progress, the students are eager to learn more and more skills. All of this brings me back to one of the premises that David addressed in one of his posts. If you take the idea that energy has to have some sort of source, what is the source of energy in the ‘flat classroom?’
In the past, the source of energy in a classroom was friction applied by the teacher in the form of gravity. The teacher had the knowledge and the information flowed from him/her downward to the students who in turn applied the knowledge. In the ‘Flat Classroom’ the energy created by the teacher doesn’t exist, so where does the energy come from? I would like to take that same analogy and propose that the energy in a flat classroom is created by a chemical reaction, not literally, but figuratively. Students in a ‘flat classroom’ create energy by using multiple Web 2.0 tools (chemical reactions) to create something new and different. This is a case where the whole is truly greater than the sum of the pieces. The best part of this ed-tech chemical reaction is that it happens without regard to time and location.