What kind of approach to education and learning must we have, if the end result we want to provide to our kids is to enhance their ability to self-direct themselves into living a sustainable, meaningful and successful life?
Photo credit: Dmitriy Shironosov
If our goal is the one of truly having our children learn the ins and outs of life and the strategies and skills to challenge them, why are we segregating them out of our world and excluding them from the opportunity of learning from real-life experts the things that they are mostly interested in?
If modern life is all about faster change, complexity, diversity and information / communication how can we expect to prepare our kids for the future when all we provide to them is a static and pre-defined curriculum of topics that is one and the same for everyone?
Helping me out in this quest are again
Howard Rheingold, Jay Cross, Stephen Downes, George Siemens, Nancy White, Gerd Leonhard and Teemu Arina who have kindly accepted to record a few short, one-minute-long video thoughts on these topics.
Here, in Part 2 of this article (Part 1 here) their one-minute views on some these key questions:
The Importance of School - Jay Cross
You ask how important is school.
School, because you're taught things and only part of that is learned, and then most of that is forgotten because there is a lack of application, before you have a chance to really use any of these things.
What I learned in school is almost worthless.
However, school is a great socialization device. I guess if you think if the learning is not the academics, but learning how to get along with people, I learned some very useful things in school.
Learning to Inquire - Howard Rheingold
What I learned in high school was how to get into college. When I got into college it just didn't make sense to me to continue to pursue the collection of nuggets of knowledge that I could then regurgitate at tests.
At the time I was really interested in learning, so I went to a place called Reed. I'd say that the one thing that I've received in my college education was a real dedication to inquiry.
Instead of collecting knowledge, discovering it. Instead of receiving it, trying to seek it, to answer some kind of questions, something that's meaningful to me.
Of course, the whole business of "How do you find the answer to questions", back in the old days it was libraries, today it's search engines. And how do you judge what you find, how do you analyze it, how do you know it's for real, how do you fit it together into a structure of meaning?
Those were the things that I learned in college that didn't make a lot of sense, then, in regard to what I would do with my life, but actually had a lot to do with what I've ended up doing.
How to Live a Meaningful Life? - Nancy White
"How to prepare ourselves to live a meaningful life?"
Be curious, know how to ask questions, know how to communicate, know how to read, know how to cook, know how to drive, know how to saw a button, know how to balance your checkbook, but I think it goes back to curiosity.
You can never ever ever ever stop being curious.
How to Prepare Oneself for a Meaningful Life? Stephen Downes
Probably the hardest question to answer is: "What can I do to best prepare myself to have an educated, meaningful life?" And there's no simple answer to that question, because it's going to depend a lot on what your own interests, and your own inclinations are.
If I had to say anything, I'd tell people: "Follow what interests you! Follow what gets you excited! And pursue that, and not be distracted by the many other things people would tell you that you absolutely have to do."
In my own case, it was reading and writing. And while people were trying to get me to do other work, I would be reading. When people were trying to get me to do schoolwork, I would be writing. These are the things that I pursued in my life to make my life better.
For you it may be very different, it may be technology, it may be science, may be auto mechanics, it may be industrial design, it may be any of the million things, but whatever it is, follow it.
What to Do to Prepare Your Kids for Life - Gerd Leonhard
"What's the best way today if you have kids to prepare them for life?"
I think to expose them to lots of different ideas, to have them travel, look at things, and experience things. To have them teach how to use the Web to reach people and to be reached by others, how to connect, and how to interchange.
I think one thing that's crucial in today's world is how to learn how to juggle with this huge river, ocean of information. That learning to learn, to me, I think is one of the key things.
What Is Learning For Me? - George Siemens
What is learning for me?
I have to rely on a statement that E.M. Forster famously made, which is "Only connect". I think in a very real sense.
For me to learn today is about being properly connected to other people, being able to find information when I want.
Having tools at my disposal that allow me to access different sources of information, and also having a network of people that enables me to reach out, ask questions when I need it. These networks are obviously based on trust, these are people that I have followed for a while, who I've been aware of over the last several years.
In a real very practical sense, my ability to connect to other people, is learning for me.
My ability to find information sources through easy-to-use tools is learning for me. And ultimately, anything whether it's policy, government initiatives, copyright, or any other system that puts up barriers between me and my ability to connect to others and information, it is ultimately a barrier to my learning.
Preparation For Life - How To Live Successfully - Jay Cross
Preparation for life?
Be relentlessly curious, ask questions all the time, join in your exploration with others, be aware that everything flows, nothing is for certain, it's all in flux. Life is beta, hop in and enjoy it.
End of Part 2
Special thanks go to the kindness and generous sharing attitude of:
- Jay Cross - Internet Time Blog
- Howard Rheingold - Smart Mobs
- Nancy White - Full Circle Associates
- Stephen Downes - Stephen's Web
- Gerd Leonhard - Media Futurist
- George Siemens - eLearnSpace
Robin Good and Daniele Bazzano -
Originally prepared by Robin Good and Daniele Bazzano for MasterNewMedia and first published on January 7, 2009 as "Education And Learning: A Paradigm Shift - Part 2 - How To Prepare Yourself For A Meaningful Life?"