Andrew Keen at the Britannica blog writes something so diametrically opposed to my own take on things that it’s startling and, frankly, amazing on some level (as well as ironic):
The only way to efficaciously fight back against the radical democratizers is by exposing Web 2.0 to serious public scutiny. People outside Silicon Valley get it when they are exposed to the Web 2.0 nonsense. Teachers, politicians, business leaders, editors, librarians, broadcasters, and, above all, parents are aware of Web 2.0â€™s destructive consequences…The intellectual life of our society is at stake. This is a critically serious debate that will determine the credibility and the very viability of our information economy. If we want our kids to be ignorant, then accept the fashionable inanities of Web 2.0. If not, join the cause. And fight against the flattening of our culture into a wasteland of collectivist nonsense.
Whoa. Talk about getting out of the echo chamber.
I do agree with one thing…this is a critically serious debate. And I can predict which of the people who frequently comment here will line up on which side, should they choose to engage it. And looking at Keen’s new book’s page on Amazon, it’s clear the game is on at some level. (Though at the moment I write this, my book is a couple notches ahead of his on Amazon’s sales rank…shameless self-promotion, I know.) But the interesting thing as you read through the Amazon blog post (oh, the irony!) of the myriad of interviews and debates that Keen has been doing, nowhere does it appear he’s meeting up with anyone representing education. It’s all business or technology or media types, which is pretty telling when it’s all about our “kids being ignorant.”
Which brings me back to what Tom Hoffman wrote the other day about the “Big Problems in Ed Tech:”
Utter chaos around privacy, safety and liability. The “practical” advice being promoted seems out of sync with empirical evidence, but much worse, there just doesn’t seem to be any doctrine to guide decision making. I have absolutely no clue how we work our way out of this mess, because ultimately, the problems are driven by anxious parents, who aren’t exactly rational actors.
My first thought was we don’t have a clue because we’re not in the right conversation on some level, and because who, on a large scale, acts rationally when it comes to education? At times like these when I’m pretty dour on things any way, I really wonder what systemic impact we can have by pushing at the education door. Yeah, we can impact individual teachers and subsequently lots of kids and that’s all good. But at the end of the day, the bigger conversation is about paying kids to get good grades and doing whatever it takes to get those state test scores up, the ones that don’t mean all that much anyway it seems. (Oh, and by the way, so much for Nebraska being an oasis of sanity in terms of testing.)
And I’ll say it again, our collective reach is still very small.
I’ve seen more posts of late that talk about simply scrapping the current system and starting over. And that may be the best route (or not,) and it may be the inevitable outcome of where this is all taking us (not just “Dangerously Irrelevant” but “Fatally Irrelevant.”) And speaking of Scott, (congrats, btw), did you see this post from his “Change Week” last week?
Our current system is . . . incapable of changing itself. Most people know â€“ even if they are loath to admit it â€“ that itâ€™s easier to start from scratch than to try to salvage whatâ€™s already there. We may wish otherwise, but we ought not to be wishful thinkers. Systemic, transformational change in public education can only happen if we are willing to start from scratch.
But I’m wondering if what rises from the ashes is much of a system at all as opposed to some type of free agent, personal learning process that looks more like the way things work once we leave school.
Of course, that’s my own fashionable inanity.