October 09, 2010

[ #tep10 ] Charles Leadbeater: "pull learning" and learning from Chinese restaurants

Notes from The Education Project, Bahrain, complete with spelling errors, misappropriations and personal bias added without necessarily letting you know. Enjoy.

Chinese food
From the "eminently sensible department" Charles Leadbeater pulled this one from his recent Learning From The Extremes (pdf) travels in response to the feeling (shared) that there is a relentless expectation to import so-called global notions of education and learning to cultures that risk being eroded or lost as a result. (By "global" we often end up actually referring, at best, to North America or, more specifically, the US).

Not only that, but current "global" education trends tend to suggest, according to some in the Bahrain audience, that unity on principles rather than disparate understandings are the most desirable way forward. Here's what Charles thinks is a more helpful metaphor for understanding learning in a globalised world.

We see people trying to adopt national standards in a bid to "bring things together", but what works best is where ultralocal circumstances can be harnessed. In Kerala, India, the most important thing to learn as a young girl is how not to get HIV+, but this is not something you get taught in school. This pull learning is based around learning being pulled in by the learner's self interest.

"The new skills" of 21st century learning cannot be "delivered", in the same way as we deliver a pizza. They are encourageable, but they're not teachable (EM: certainly once we're beyond the click here, drag there stage).

Instead, new skills are pulled in by learners. In the developing world there's a formula you notice:

                                        Education + Technology = Hope

This formula can be seen in India, Brazil and China slums because the education is not pushed, it's pulled. Education based around learning in community centres is cheap and based around interest, and it would be wrong for these countries to seek the expensive models of High Tech High or the Finnish system.

But technology is an aspect they have in common: the only thing that is as visceral as drugs to get drugs dealers who run the favela to pull learning towards them, according to one founder of an 18-year-old community centre.

The mistake is if we try to scale industrialised (Western) models when really we're talking about how to spread principles. The Chinese restaurant approach is a desirable one: there are millions of Chinese restaurants and we know what we'll get there, but there is no "Chinese Restaurant" brand.

Another great piece on the notion of spreadability of media, which applies in many respects to the spreadability of learning, can be found in the whopping eight-part post by Henry Jenkins, starting here: If It Doesn't Spread, It's Dead.

Pic from Todd

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I dont think I could have said it any better myself. You totally expressed the same thoughts that I was thinking with this wonderful blog post. Please keep readers such as myself engaged and keep writing such great content.
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