Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Dealing with the age of free knowledge

The ride so far for me in this new set up that I am in has been rough so far, but it sure has been one hell of an exhilarating experience. I came to realise that knowledge is free, well almost. Less important than that is this idea that I have about the validity of calling myself a teacher. I think a more appropriate term for my role in the classroom right now would be that of a 'Learning Facilitator'. In this age where everything else can be Googled, and almost every bit of knowledge that has been created since the dawn of Man has been Wiki-ed, who are we as teachers to teach the students something that is totally and 'revolutionarily' NEW? Unless we are engaged in a field that is like totally new to the human race, which is perhaps the sole domain of the few amongst us, what we are teaching our young charges are not new content knowledge per se, but just something that has been discovered by our fathers and forefathers. Well perhaps the definition of 'NEW' here is contextual...yes it is new to our young charges, but then again, there is NO stopping them to learn about quantum physics at age 10 just by Googling, when perhaps a more age-appropriate level is when they are perhaps in upper high school and upwards. But then again, this is again, our assumptions about age-appropriateness.

So perhaps an evolutionary idea here, which I think is currently happening in small sectors of the education field here, is the practice that no longer is learning defined by what is written in the textbooks or assessment books! I mean should we stop teaching and engaging the students if they show interests in the Chaos Theory, just because it is not part of the curriculum. Yes assessment is important at the end of the day, but there should also be certain aspects of their assessment that targets the learning that takes place beyond the classroom or textbooks, the learning that happens when they either pushed the boundaries of their own learning, and start to explore and discover things that they are interested in. As an analogy, this notion is certainly nothing new in the workplaces of innovative firms all around the world. How many times have we heard about how 3M encourages her employees to spend some time within their official working hours, to be engaged in something that they like to do, some thing that seems to be seemingly out of sync with their official duties in the company, but at least they enjoy doing! Hmmm, could we adopt something similar to the education of our future leaders. Perhaps we could...and who knows, we might just do it very very soon!

No comments: