"One must not forget that the earth seen from an airplane is more splendid than the earth seen from an automobile. The automobile is the end of progress on earth, it goes quicker but essentially the landscapes seen from an automobile are the same as the landscapes seen from a carriage, a train, a wagon, or in walking. But the earth seen from an airplane is something else. So the twentieth century is not the same as the nineteenth century and it is very interesting knowing that Picasso has never seen the earth from an airplane, that being of the twentieth century he inevitably knew that the earth is not the same as in the nineteenth century, he knew it, he made it, inevitably he made it different and what he made is a thing that now all the world can see. When I was in America I for the first time travelled pretty much all the time in an airplane and when I looked for the earth I saw all the lines of cubism made at a time when not any painter had ever gone up in an airplane" (Gertrude Stein 1959)
My summer writing project this January is textbook revision. I am analysing the proposed content and nature of science achievement objectives at level 4/5 in the New Zealand Draft curriculum and then evaluating what would be required to update the New Zealand editions of two Australian science textbooks.
It has been kind of fun stripping out all reference to bandicoots, sugar gliders, green snakes, goannas and eskies, finding magnificent New Zealand landforms to match places like the Wave Rock in Western Australia and The Breadknife in the Warrumbungles, checking out URL’s and writing any new text needed for New Zealand specific achievement objectives.
But while I have been embroiled in torrid acts of trans Tasman faunal/ floral/ geological rivalry and revisionism, I found my mind drifting – I found myself searching for differences in the way a textbook might represent science education to the "21st century learner". Searching for an “earth seen from an airplane” like view of science, in the same way that Stein identifies Picasso’s cubism perspective.
So whilst I was interested in what the Draft Curriculum has included as worthy in the content of science, as distinct from the nature of science and how these are both represented in the textbooks, I became intrigued in looking for instances where the nature of science experiences in the textbook fit Gilbert’s knowledge is a verb rather than a noun stuff.
It is currently considered a “good thing” in NZ educational circles to cite Gilbert’s “Catching the Knowledge Wave” in conversation. Fret not if you didn’t get a copy under the tree for Christmas you don’t need to purchase, or even read the book to play the Gilbert edu_game – you just need to throw one of the following quotes into the first staff meeting back after the summer break and you are in
I think it is important to remember Gilbert here –rich tasks, integrated studies, inquiry learning and ICT is simply our school’s response to crises in traditional capitalism.
Until we grapple with Gilbert’s challenge to become learning brokers we will never come up with an equitable bus duty roster.
Knowledge may well be the key resource for economic development but I’d like to see Gilbert try to sell her Y10 Social Studies planning and assessment rubrics on ebay when her Visa is maxed out after Christmas
Can someone help me understand paragraph 5 “form teacher expectations for pastoral care in the knowledge era”. –After two weeks at the bach relating to too many others, I’m with Gilbert -if it’s not digitisable it’s not knowledge.
Since knowledge is no longer linked to truth but to performativity and innovation, the student council want to know how our knowledge era assemblies are being run this year
If the torpor of the interaction on the first day back makes you forget the quotes, the key point to remember is that Gilbert describes 21st Century ”knowledge as a verb” . It seems knowledge is no longer a noun, it has something she calls “performativity” -or a “what it can do-ness”
Talking about “performativity” with respect to knowledge is a little like talking about “asynchronous development” in gifted education. They are both great words for simultaneously impressing and undermining your colleagues who will not have the vaguest idea of what you are on about. "Blended learning", "MUSH networks" and "PLE’s" will have a similar effect when thrown casually into staff meeting discussion.
I had come across “performativity” before, in the context of Judith Butler’s gender analysis – all that “the social reality of gender - is not a given but is continually created as an illusion through language, gesture, and all manner of symbolic social sign". I wonder what Butler would make of “gendered e communities” for Web2.0.
It is important to note that "less is more" when dusting the staffmeeting with "knowledge is a verb" and "performativity is the issue" comment. Engaging in "Butler like arguments" - replacing gender with knowledge and claiming that all knowledge is illusion will not enhance your credibility, and probably impact negatively on your future employability. In the unlikely circumstance that an institutionally naive colleague asks you to elaborate on “knowledge and performativity” you’d be much smarter to fallback on Gilbert’s sense of knowledge as “an ability to be used”, allude to prostitution, roll your eyes and ask again about the fairness of the bus duty rosters.
So what do textbooks look like when knowledge acts more like a verb than a noun? I suspect that all that “earth seen from the airplane” stuff means they don’t look like first edtion, second edition, reprinted twice in 1999 books at all, I suspect that they look like ongoing research wikis.