Acquaintance with the Past

We may reject knowledge of the past as an end of education and thereby only emphasize its importance as a means. When we do that we have a problem that is new in the story of education: how shall the young become acquainted with the past in such a way that the acquaintance is a potent agent in appreciation of the living present?

If I were to explain Connectivism and MOOC learning (both, in theory) to someone, and they were to then claim that they are not that into it or would rather read a text and learn by them self, my response would be: sure, great. A Connectivism approach absolutely includes that type of learning, just as it includes all types of intentional learning…but what are your reasons for saying so? You’ve got to have reasons for saying so. Are you shy? Not using Social Media all that much? Or, no access? Maybe you’re concentrating of the basics in your field of study? Are you simply not open to drastic change? At least know your reasons, because this is what the new era of education is all about; learners can choose what is best for their situation. If you don’t at least choose, you may be missing some efficient educational options and knowledge. More importantly, you are probably not putting yourself into a position where you can maintain your chosen field of study all that well.

The above quote is from nearly 100 years ago and should serve as a warning, that as change gets called for, those with the loudest voices (collective or individual) know what they calling for and what needs to be retained from the past. It seems extreme at times, distributed out there, an unbalanced backlash against the past of education. Certainly understandable, but not a reflection of the implication of what has been happening these days; not the point of emergent learning; and not the change that is creating the excitement in education today. It is a liberation of structure privilege that we are approaching in education, not just another shift. This is the message of non-representational Connectivism, and it needs to come out of the brackets and caveats and into the holistic description of the theory.

This choice of what is best is not anymore going to be just a matter of selecting from among the options available. The choice will be about selecting what is best from potentially unlimited options. We are reaching a point were we can see that the spectrum of both place and frequency of communication technology is going to be filled in sometime down the line. A point thereafter when education will not have to hold learners at the mercy of whichever media educators or learners use to access the distributed content, because design approaches alone, not access, can help educators plan for this bias. To continue with this MOOC example, a lot of people don’t like Social Media and feel uncomfortable with it in an educational sense. Not because they are tired of it and have overdosed on it over the past five years, but because it does not suit who they are, and it never has. As new approaches to education emerge, they need to realize this need for education from situation….especially approaches like Connectivism that take a large scale view of education systems, stating their independence from technology. A response to the text-book learner (from the first paragraph) that challenges their ability to contribute, interact and create socially puts a Connectivism approach, or any other non-representational approach to intentional learning, at the mercy of what technology affords. To let technology dictate to us what intentional learning is – to be under the thumb of our media, rather than to command it – this is what it means to be infatuated by technology.

With minimal infatuation educators can move from uncommitted statements like The Network is the Learning, to focus on more empowering statements like Education is Command of the Network.

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One thought on “Acquaintance with the Past

  1. Pingback: The Spectrum of Educational Technology « A Point of Contact

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