Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Steep “Unlearning Curve”

Will Richardson has been thinking about the things educators need to unlearn.

"One of the most challenging pieces of figuring out how to move education forward in a systemic way is “unlearning curve” that we teachers and educators have to go through to even see the possibilities that lay before us. So much of our traditional thinking about personal learning and classroom practice is being challenged by our ability to publish and connect and collaborate primarily because of the opportunities afforded by the Read/Write Web."

I agree with that.

"For instance, in a world where literally any place can be a classroom, we have to unlearn the comforts of four walls that we’ve become accustomed to."

I understand what he's getting at here and can concur to the degree that we can and should exploit the release from the single mode of delivery the technology offers; but (there's always a 'but' with me when it comes to ed tech evangelism) the possible underlying assumption that the new will automatically be better doesn't stack up, in my opinion.

"When we can share our work with wide audiences, we need to unlearn the idea that student writing and projects are simply ways to assess what they know."

On this one I'm back in step with him again and he goes on to provide a list of 10 things we need to unlearn, most of which I mostly agree with (note again the hesitant qualifications of the academic, as I hedge my bets on whether Richardson's definitions might coincide with my own etc. etc.). Each of the 10, however, sits on top of a plethora of complications and the practical implications of each on its own could require a complete re-structuring of the existing education system in schools and colleges. That, unfortunately, is not something that is going to happen at least within the kind of timescale that would benefit my own children.

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