O'Radar bounces off Education 2.0.
Once upon a time there was a notion to move from centering
education on teachers to centering on students (RRE):
A kind of instruction manual for a new
rhetoric, and it's the rhetoric that's destructive. Take the nebulous
opposition between "teacher-centered" and "student-centered" kinds
of learning. (One does not say "teaching" any more, on the grounds
that learning is a socially necessary activity and teaching is not.
If one does grudgingly recognize the role of a professional who sees
to it that people learn, one calls that person a "learning manager" or
some such foolishness.)
The idea is that, in the old world, teachers
just stood up and droned, and the whole thing revolved around them,
whereas in the new world each student will head off in his or her own
totally unique direction, according to his or her own unique interests
Sounds good until you try it, and until you really ask
seriously whether the dichotomies describe the reality. You wouldn't
know from listening to the technophiles that any teacher in the old
world had ever run a discussion section, assigned loosely structured
project assignments, supplemented classes with individually directed
study arrangements, or ever provided students with a reading list.
And what happens in this world where every student heads off in a
different direction? You have no community among the students. They
can't discuss a common subject matter with one another, for example.
And now the teacher -- I'm sorry, the learning manager -- loses all
of the economies of scale that made it possible to answer questions
without being overwhelmed. If all of the students are on the same
page, then questions and answers in a group format, whether in person
or online, are likely to contribute to everyone's learning.
But if everyone goes in their own direction then this is not true. The point
is not that individual direction is bad and that lectures are good --
although I have no trouble at all admitting that I give lectures. The
point is that the world has always consisted of a combination of the
full range of options, and that the world will remain a combination
of the full range of options -- unless, that is, the zealots screw it
up. This is a real possibility, it seems to me, and I want to make
sure that we can talk sense about these things, because they really do