ABOUT THE BOOK: THE ASSUMPTIONS
Our understanding of what constitutes "a new culture of learning" requires us to share several basic assumptions about the world and how learning occurs.
First and foremost is the realization that,
The world is changing faster than ever and our skill sets have a shorter and shorter life.
Strategies which resist or even adapt to a constantly changing world are insufficient to keep up. We need ways to embrace change and even enjoy making sense out of a constantly changing work.. Denying change has become a losing strategy.
We need to fundamentally rethink learning and strive for ways to amplify learning and make it scalable.
Understanding play is critical to understanding learning
Play is universally recognized as a critical tool for children. It is how they come to understand, experience, and know the world. As we get older, play is seen as unimportant, trivial, or as a means of relaxation and learning switches to something you do in school where now you are taught. What we fail to fully grasp is that play is the way that children manage new, unexpected and changing conditions, exactly the situation we now all face in the fast-paced world of the 21st century. Play is more than a tool to manage change; it allows us to make new things familiar, to perfect new skills, to experiment with moves and crucially to embrace change —a key disposition for succeeding in the 21st century
The world is getting more connected that ever before – can that be a resource?
Access to information and to other people is both unparalleled in modern history. Our “connectedness” is not only to resources, but to people who are helping to manage, organize, disseminate and make sense of those resources as well. This interconnectedness is creating a new sense of peer mentoring enabled by access to multiple levels and degrees of expertise.
In this connected world, mentorship takes on new importance and meaning
Where traditionally mentoring was a means of enculturating members into a community, mentoring in the collective relies more on the sense of learning and developing temporary, peer-to-peer relationships that are fluid and impermanent. Expertise is shared openly and willingly, without regard to an institutional mission. Instead, expertise is shared conditionally and situationally, as a way to enable the agency of other members of the collective.
Challenges we face are multi-faceted requiring systems thinking & socio-technical sensibilities
As part of what Hagel & Brown call “The Big Shift” change is happening on an exponential scale. This requires our learning environments to match the speed and degree of change happening in the world around us. Our current educational models neither scale sufficiently nor provide a robust enough set of solutions to meet the needs of the current complexities that we face.
Skills are important but so are mind sets and dispositions
It is no longer sufficient to teach skills or even meta-skills (e.g. learning how to learn). These approaches only tell us what needs to be taught, whereas dispositions shift the ground back to learning, grounding education in passion, imagination, and arc of life learning.
Innovation is more important than ever – but turns on our ability to cultivate imagination.
A new culture of learning needs to leverage social & technical infrastructures in new ways.
1) By thinking about the problem as a crisis in learning rather than teaching
Play is the basis for cultivating imagination and innovation
The essence of play is twofold: 1) the freedom to act in new ways which are different from "everyday life" and 2) a set of rules that constrain that freedom. Think of any game a kid creates of make-believe. It is both fantasy and it has to have rules (which may be arbitrary and even ridiculous), but what it results in is a world of imagination and something entirely new and innovative.
It is easy to understand that play is a perspective or modality for learning. But we have been framing innovation too narrowly. Innovation is not an outcome. It too is a perspective and that perspective is governed by play which in some cases might be thought of as tinkering.
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(c) 2011 Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown. All Rights Reserved.