This is a cross post, this also appears in my previous post Can we control the present, let alone the future?
This is a very thought-provoking post, one that I was drawn to by @nickotkdIV via his post here. I started writing my thoughts as a reply to Nick’s post, however they readily turned into something more fitting for a blog post of my own…
I totally agree that learners should be given more control over their learning environment and I am always searching for new ways to work towards this in my own setting (@thought_weavers post has certainly added more ideas!)
The question of how we can achieve this and create the schools our learners’ need is – as highlighted in this article – a tricky one. Perhaps the only way to achieve a more effective system would be to let our current system crumble; however the implications of this would be deep and wide-ranging and potentially very damaging to our society.
Perhaps the only way to truly give learners more control over their own environments would be if they were the ones to design the spaces that they occupy daily and if they were the ones who designed how they interact with (and within) these areas. Now, many schools do already include pupils in the design process, however the extent to which their decisions are actually taken on board and considered by members of staff varies and ultimately the power and control still seems to reside with the members of staff in charge. Similarly, if a group of children were in charge of this, the power and control would still reside with the group. Is it possible to avoid this in large settings such as schools? Perhaps not.
Perhaps, using online tools is one way that education and learning can be truly personalised for each individual. Learners can choose their tools, chose their learning paths and set the pace of their own learning. They can design the environment in which they spend a lot of their time. This already happens in the world ‘outside’ of schools, so why aren’t we empowering learners to do more of this inside school?
I have used the word ‘perhaps’ a lot in this post as I really am just thinking aloud and I realise that there are lots of generalisations and assumptions made in this post. However, the important (and slightly ‘deep’) question that I am left with after this reflection is:
Is it even possible to design a mass space where everyone can be truly in control of their present and indeed, their futures?
I am reminded of my research into Foucault, Freire, Illich and Thoreau (to name a few), which helped shape my vision and values assignment during my final year studies (available to read here). I need to consider this further.
Thoughts and comments welcomed and appreciated.
Please also visit http://alexgingell.posterous.com/controlling-learning @alexgingell