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June 23, 2010



Historians know about change not happening overnight ;-) and I'm not trying to assign credit or fault here. What I think I am doing is pointing out that if we really do want to have systemic change, then we need to begin with a perspective on what that system is. And if we're sitting there looking at 'technology' in the classroom without considering the classroom as technology, then we're not even really seeing the system. You know?

On the same tools front, when we build or use tools like Blackboard (just purely as an example)or any authoring environment that uses something like a tree structure to denote hierarchical, linear progression thru instruction and we fail to understand that those tools and the way they are built reflect a cultural bias and inculcate or inscribe that cultural meaning on what can be created with them, then we are again failing to understand or see the system large enough.

As far as the kids in the current structure, read the Ravitch material, they are behind left behind now anyway. They aren't being served by the current system so while I understand the need for transitional periods, if we keep thinking that things are working now or fail to appreciate the scale at which they are not working, then no kid or generation of kids will get a chance at a different environment.

Finally on the blank slate front, the reason I bring that up is so that people can begin to envision something free from the cultural, budgetary, environmental constraints that we operate under today. Those burdens weigh us down so much that we can't see through them to see what is possible. I say , we start at what we want and reverse engineer from there. That'll enable us to ensure that when we're done, we've changed the environment to meet our goals, not change our goals to met the environment.

I don't think you're wrong, Mark. But I don't think you give enough credit to some/many of the people in ASTD, ISPI, the Guild, #lrnchat, etc...

Systemic change is really hard, and lasting systemic change doesn't happen overnight.

You say you have a long view. How do you know that what looks to you like the perpetuating of failing systems is not the slow grind of actual transformation happening?

The question shouldn't be what would you do if you had a blank slate -- I mean, that's a great question for visualizing your way out of imagination stasis, but it's not very actionable. In terms of the school system, that's hard to stomach.

I've been having this discussion with others, like @rovybrannon, over the past couple of weeks. What happens with all the kids in the existing infrastructure whose families lack the means to move them to the new (be it cooperatives, unschooling, virtual charter schools, etc)? See, it doesn't matter what you imagine if you had a blank slate; what might be more resonant is what would you do if you could change the cultural context in which the tools exist?

But like I'm not a historian, I'm also not an anthropologist. ;)

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Quoth she/he...

  • "The hallmark of revolution is that the goals of the revolutionaries cannot be contained by the institutional structure of the society they live in. As a result, either the revolutionaries are put down, or some of those institutions are transmogrified, replaced, or simply destroyed. We are plainly witnessing a restructuring of the music and newspaper businesses, but their suffering isn’t unique, it’s prophetic." --Clay Shirky

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