I have returned from the Waiheke Island active@eden ict_pd cluster retreat, and after being provoked at Mangawhai, Rotorua and Waiheke Island in the past ten days, I am feeling like I have been badgered, wolved, and possibly beared as well.
It looked like the sort of book described in library catalogues as "slightly foxed", although it would be more honest to admit that it looked as though it had been badgered, wolved and possibly beared as well. (Terry Pratchett, The Light Fantastic).
On Sunday morning, our “keynote speaker”, Rosemary Hipkins enticed the cluster principals into a wild and widely ranging discussion captured by the question “If research is the answer, what was the question?” The conversation continued to play in our minds long after Rosemary fled the island on the early Monday ferry, and is still nudging me today.
Rosemary linked “students as researchers” with themes of – educating for the knowledge society/ education for enterprise/ education for citizenship and sustainability/ developing key competencies/ using ICT for learning/ building strong identities (belonging)/ and motivation and engagement.
She asked if “research” and the related notion of “lifelong learning” is an appropriate response to the challenges found in those well aired themes from future focused thinking
• Rapidity of change (shortening of knowledge “half life”).
• Changes to the nature of knowledge itself
• A “shrinking world” and global economy.
• Identity issues/managing diversity.
• Blurring of boundaries between humans and machines, natural and social worlds.
• Connectivity (a focus on shifting networks, complexity, dynamic systems etc).
And then she asked us to look at the Key competencies as a curriculum response to these future-focused challenges.
Her slide entitled – “The Most Recent Names” made me laugh – the Key Competencies, a MOE attempt at nationwide co-construction, bring new meaning to the term "shape shifting". The changing terms deserve to be entered into the list of "shapeshifting" example links in Wikipedia . Starting as - Thinking/Making Meaning/ Relating to others/Managing self/Belonging, Participating and Contributing and currently snap-shotted as … ahhh why bother …is bound to have shapeshifted again before I can post this comment.
Rosemary referred in part to Jane Gilbert’s writhing/writing (take your pick) on “lifelong learning” in Catching the Knowledge Wave as a possible answer to “If research is the answer, what was the question?”. Summarising Gilberts work as
- Learners need to go beyond mastering existing knowledge
- They need to be able to do things with knowledge
- They need to focus on investigations, generating new knowledge
- They need to be able to communicate their knowledge to a wide range of audiences;- in different situations;- alone or as part of a team.
The discussion was provocative, packed with new insight, and provided the perfect “launch” vehicle for thinking with the new cluster.
And what was missing from the discussions – any exploration of how warranted we are in assuming that education in any way prepares students for “lifelong learning” – and any conversation around how “lifelong education” differs from, and undermines, the “lifelong learning” we claim will help us “Catch the knowledge Wave”, if indeed we want to catch it at all.
Just got to invite Rosemary back.