TeachingHumans has entered a new phase, and we are excited to share our vision and mission as we move forward over the next year or so.
We hope to be a catalyst for education. We are committed to the notion that learning is done in a community, and that by openly sharing our conversations, questions, and ideas we can explore how best to serve learners and learning. In the coming year, TeachingHumans wants to ask big questions in a variety of formats and forums. Here’s what we’re thinking about now, and what we’d like to think about together with you.
Transparency is Accountability
What if we could satisfy the need for accountability in education by making teaching and learning more transparent? The internet offers numerous opportunities for us to safely share student learning with stakeholders. Why use standardized tests as a measurement tool, which shows a secondary level of learning at best, when we could curate and share not only the results of student learning, but the entire process as well.
Why do we still insist on a learning model that has at its end only one audience member? The days of turning in work to only the teacher need to be over as quickly as possible. The teacher should be the first audience, and the conduit to wider audiences beyond the four walls of the classroom. Our students can easily publish to a wide variety of authentic audiences, and we want to explore the value of doing so.
Networks v. Hierarchy
The emergence of the internet is having a seismic effect on human engagement. As Clay Shirky points out so well, the institutions which once served us well have now been thrown into a very challenging time as they are confronted with new forms of collaboration and networked organization. Education must reckon with this issue, and thus far, it hasn’t. We’d like to move this conversation forward.
Learning by Making and Doing
It is in the use of learning, not in the acquisition of learning, that we can best assess the value of what we teach. Public education has shifted so far to a consumption model of learning that there is little room for a model based upon creation and production. Our students, if they are to succeed at any goal we might wish them to achieve, must at least be as equipped to shape solutions as they are to spit out test answers. The global maker movement is showing promise in this field of networked doing, and by participating in its early development, TeachingHumans hopes to contribute to this growing conversation.
Content vs. Community
Take it away Seymour…
“There’s education as putting out information; teacher lecturing, reading the book. There’s learning by doing, which is the constructional side versus the informational side. And, unfortunately, in our schools the informational side is the one that gets the emphasis, and so there’s this line-up between one-sided emphasis in the thinking about school, and the one-sided emphasis in thinking about the technology. Both of them emphasizing the informational side, and they reinforce one another. So in many ways, through this, the wrong image we have of what digital technology is about reinforces instead of undermining some of the weaknesses and narrowness of traditional education.” – Seymour Papert, Ghosts in the Machine, 1999
In adopting, and worse yet, purchasing, canned content systems on computers, we are failing to empower students by giving them access to learning communities, communities which will be vital to their success in life. Let’s cease to stare at hammers and focus, instead, on building things with them.
Learning is not location bound. It never has been. We’ve just never been able to capture, document, and curate it before. Now we can, and we aren’t. Why?
The culture of institutional education can be called many things, but “supportive of innovation” usually isn’t one of them. What can we do to support educators at all levels in designing the solutions that we need?
The broken chassis of our education system is assessment. It’s the toughest nut to crack, and it needs a total overhaul if we are to hope to move forward with any of this.
In and Out of The Box
None of this is “out-of-the-box thinking”. It is firmly rooted in ideas that, up until recently, we thought were firmly “in-the-box” of our institutional approach. If the ideas of John Dewey and Ralph Waldo Emerson are now considered to be “out-of-the-box” thinking in American public education, haven’t we lost our way?
Please contact us if you are interested in participating. We’d love to have more educators post on this blog, we encourage you to comment, and we are also hoping to host conversations in a Google Live Hangout.