Getting rid of old "new" pedagogy

Did you know that our way of schooling is only a 100 - 1000 years old? That may seem like a lot but it is less than 1% of human history. We transmitted culture and knowledge for thousands of years before the first school opened its doors. What do you think about that? Should we be nostalgic and go back to the "old ways"? Impossible, none of us were there to see it and too many generations have passed for us to even know what that would look like.

But, if our pedagogy cannot keep up with technology then we miss out on enormous opportunities for learning. Not because technology drives pedagogy but because technology provides new ways of accessing learning. We have experienced rapid growth and change in our society. In evolutionary terms this signals the beginning of change. However, the transition should not be mistaken for the new form it is just temporary. All of our debates and frustration with how tools are or are not being used is just that, a shifting era in the way in which we learn.

Although one could not predict what the change will be into, it is possible to see what pressures are driving this change. Examining this will help us pool our resources and focus our energies on what could be lasting.

Curriculum - The Common Core Standards in the US are slowly being adopted by states as the framework for what students should learn. Much like a cell phone purchased in January, it is obsolete by February. Not to specifically target the CCS but knowledge is growing so rapidly in depth and breadth, our strength will be in the diversity of our experts not the uniformity of our mastery.

Assessment - Of course one should know how to do what they are expected to be doing, and it should be possible to provide assurance that they are qualified to do so. But what are we doing to ensure they are capable of working with others? I'm not saying play nice and communicate effectively, but if a doctor and an engineer are capable of collaborating, something great will come from that. We need to move away from a liberal education which is a mile wide and an inch deep into a highly interdisciplinary one where divisions of knowledge become blurred.

We also need to move away from the idea that I am the master and I will always be the master. It should be implied in your studying with me that you will learn what I have to teach but discover and innovate beyond what I understood. If the student never exceeds the master then we have a negative feedback loop and innovation is stiffled. At the same time, one should not consider themselves an educator if their learning stopped when they left the University with a piece of paper in their hand.

The New Economy  - Up until recently, the bulk of our workforce was skill based. If you knew how to do something then you were paid to do it and you could do that skill for the rest of your life. Technology made it possible for industries to change or become obsolete. Suddenly an entire generation was unable to do the thing their family had done for generations and simultaneously industries popped up that had never existed before.

Knowledge became the new currency and people went back to school to be retrained, students were told an education was critical and the more you had the better. It was about what you knew and how much of it. But with everyone entering the universities, there was no hope of employment for everyone. The bar was raised to make an undergraduate degree the new standard and now more and more employers are pushing towards a graduate degree as the new cutoff. Sometimes employers are not even looking for someone with a degree in a particular field. It doesn't matter, in our system, the more knowledge you have the better worker you must be.

Whether this is a result of the transition mentioned above or the emergence of the new form, we are seeing the synthesis of knowledge and skill. It is not enough to know anymore you must be able to do. If you have your ear to the ground you will see lots of new institutions of learning. Some of them are online and some of them are grassroots organic but people are flocking to them to apply their knowledge and learn useful skills.

Now we must continue to learn out of necessity if we wish to stay relevant. There are more and more online learning resources for us to continue our education for little or no cost. Yet this is not enough, it will be those who apply their knowledge who create the next big thing or find new ways to live. If we are not showing our students how to create and exclaiming when they do create, "How did you do that?!?" then we are not going beyond the pedagogy we inherited.

Update: Found Sal making these points in video form (uploaded on my birthday)!

Convergence is everywhere.