November 27, 2006

Hierarchies, reversing the core and why we learn from each other

Nova has dovetailed nicely into her talk on how the Live Web is essential in a world where:

  • Change is constant
  • We are all lifelong learners
  • We have to be directors of our own learning
  • We learn from connecting knowledge

There's a balance to be struck between providing leadership and guidance, showing the way to those who struggle to make their way up the parabolic curve of innovation while not allow the hierarchy leadership might entail to get in the way.

But putting the concept of who's teacher, who's a student, what's a textbook is aside, all we are left with is the knowledge that people learn from each other. It doesn't matter from whom they are learning, as long as those who know more have an avenue in which to share their knowledge.

So what is the problem?
She's now making us work collaboratively. I know many teachers who would say Grrrr. I think Nova's got some great questions which are helping me think through the question from Tim Brighouse last week: where does the teacher stand in this. We could just as easily ask: "Where does the public organisation stand in all this?"

Why is change the problem?

  • It's difficult to have a 180 degree change in organisational culture when the organisation is funded publicly.
    (People feel loss when they have to change, says John, and it is understandable that they have doubts on 'burning bridges'. They are exposing themselves to uncertainty and insecurity, adds Derek. I would add that these are all great observations but, when an organisation such as Learning and Teaching Scotland has a choice to move through the doldrums of uncertainty to hopefully come out the other side, or to stay in the wind and not know if paradise is on the other side if the storm, which choice should it take? As a learning and teaching organisation is it not our prerogative to learn and teach others from our efforts? Or should we respect our regular public body 'curriculum' and do what everyone else does and stay put?
  • Change needs to come from the top and bottom.
  • People need to feel confident about taking control of change and learning from their mistakes.
  • The cultural attitude of "I taught your faither" has to be knocked.

Why is it a problem to be director of your own learning?

  • Teachers don't see where their role is, if they have a role, even.
  • Students don't know where to go next - they need parameters but how many, how long, where, how is it assessed? If students are to be in charge of their own learning they need to constantly move out of their comfort zone, into their zone of proximal development.
  • What skills do students need to find information, structure their own line of enquiry?
  • What do students get out of it? Joy of learning? Certificates? Comments? Quantitative or qualitative or both?
  • Do teachers need to know all of those skills? Does one teacher need to teach one class those skills?
  • What about the pressures from outside agencies (LTS, SQA, GTCS)?

What is the problem with learning by sharing what we know?

  • Organisations and people who say they will share but don't.
  • They keep information to keep some kind of 'control'.
  • They use 'confidentiality' to avoid having conversations about the bits they can.


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About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

What does Ewan do?

Module Masterclass

School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

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