Love your first-drafts Dave. Don’t polish please.
Here is my unedited, first draft, shoot from the hip response, lengthier musing(s) at http://human.edublogs.org/why-is-everyone-an-expert-on-education/
Yes, the rise of technologies (meant here as a process and/or tool, means to an end) embedded in things and people we live with, veers us off in increasing number of possible directions, producing an increasing array of changes and possibilities. Poor old (or ‘dumb old’ some would say) Button Joe not only loses his job, he is increasingly unable to fetch, process, analyze information to even catch a bus on a route he has never gone before (but Joe can see his aunty in Australia every day via Skype ? ).
In rapidly changing, uncertain times, we crave certainty (D’uh! Deep hey). Because of that, we so often fall for ‘white coat replicability’, underpinned by the ‘STEM’-type, linear, neat thinking that we can build better humans (whom we can always measure and classify), we are somehow progressing and all we need is to become better at it. OK, we can ‘make’ say athletes swim faster, ride longer etc but it gets messy when we enter fuzzy stuff like ‘know more’, ‘be a better student/parent/community member’…you know, the list is endless.
Schools are a perfect example of it: “We just need to perfect what we have been doing and go harder at it…the notion of continuous ‘improvement’”. Extension -> oh look, digital tech is going to help us do that, great, let’s have a bit of that…Gets worse: “After all, the Joneses next door are doing it so we better too!” This is why digital technologies, for all the song and dance about it, haven’t really changed much of schooling (Paul Fernhout hits the nail on the head here http://patapata.sourceforge.net/WhyEducationalTechnologyHasFailedSchools.html see reference to many of the points you raise as well) .
As the world is changing so rapidly, schools and educational institutions recoil to the “past and known” (yeah, enter multiple perspectives and truths… bloody French 😀 😀 ) rather than deal with present and future – both highly shifting, uncertain. Some of them do it because they say ‘let the world break their teeth on it before we expose our kids to it’ (a noble notion with care for kids at its heart but frankly as doomed as Ned Ludd’s efforts), some say ‘we don’t want to know, we want to deal with what we know and can control’ (‘head-in-the-sand’, hooray for learning anyone?). I’m not suggesting historical atrophy, we do need to learn things from the past and its context, nor do I want an uncontrolled free-for-all (bullies beware) but not to at least tinker with the present and future openly, at the expense of ‘perfecting the past’, is akin to professional dishonesty and, at best, disadvantages the kids in front of us.
Now, since we sharpened rocks, the promise of technology has always been “less drudgery, more leisure”. Yeah right. I’m not a Luddite (although Ned’s doomed mission was not without some good points about dehumanizing society) but I am sick and tired of tech-peddlers who seek to fill the time and life ‘freed by technology’ with technology of a different (preferably their own) kind as some kind of historical inevitability.
And at a deeper level, since time immemorial technologies have been invented to make us ‘become’ better. But this ‘becoming’, and particularly its linearity, is elusive and problematic, yet we continue to fall for it. We simply change (through) people and bodies of knowledge we connect with. We are better in different spaces but hardly advance the humanity (problematic, I know…) we all carry within us, ready to unleash in its g(l)ory.
Technology is an extension of human power. Power to do, from horrible to wonderful. It gave Button Joe a job once, made him productive and happy. Now Joe has to figure out in what ways buttons can be used for because they come from China (cheaply) – maybe decorate them and sell them on eBay? (hail the long tail!).
The answer? Not one, but broadly a re-imagined model of contributive cross- age/time/space/expertise mentorship (I remember you fishing around for stuff of medieval guilds…ballpark that needs a lot of rethinking). Not a mentorship of a perennial trickle down from master-knower to student but a relationship where we co-create, contribute with varying degrees (the teacher as “meddler-in-the-middle” -> Erica McWilliam’s excellent work http://22.214.171.124/search?q=cache:pYg0EaztZLEJ:www.creativityconference07.org/presented_papers/McWilliam_Unlearning.doc+Unlearning+How+to+Teach&cd=3&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us ). Rhizome anyone?
Been meaning to reply to this the moment I saw it, keep throwing bones like that (some great comments too!).
By the way, I like the term human literacy (for all its neboulosity … ? ).