I have been too busy working with different schools to contemplate blogging or even reading blogs recently. My blogging restlessness temporarily satiated by new places, new conversations, Janet's steak and kidney pie and motel room visits from policemen at midnight.
I have been accompanied on my travels by a battered copy of Calvino’s “Invisible Cities” – (a conversation between the Tartar emperor Kublai Khan and Venetian traveller Marco Polo) - such a wondrous catalyst for new imaginings about education and schools – and perfect to dip into when stuck in an airport lounge, flying, or waiting for a taxi.
The only better thinking came when landing at Napier, where my mind was captured by imagining the 1931 Hawkes Bay earthquake – and the 1.8 meter uplift of over 3600 hectares of inner harbour – turning a great place to spear flounder (Ahuriri Lagoon) into the site of Hawkes Bay Airport. As we grew closer to Napier I spent several fishy moments imagining what the flounder were thinking as the earthquiver and earthshiver changed the watery parameters of their world forever.
I have much fun creating the links between Calvino’s imaginings of
“Invisible Cities” and my real experiences in different schools. Marco Polo’s descriptions of “cities and memory”, “cities and desire”, “cities and the dead”, “cities and the sky”, “trading cities”, “hidden cities” are so easily transcribed to “schools and memory”, “schools and desire”, “schools and the dead”, “schools and the sky”, “trading schools”, “hidden schools”
[Warning plot spoiler ahead]
As you read “Invisible Cities” you grudgingly realise that each delicious and differently detailed, complex and complicated city described is really the same place.
In this way the Calvino's narrative becomes a mind tool for analysing and imagining future school in a way that the The OECD Schooling scenarios do not.
We have developed a set of six scenarios for schooling in the future up to 2020. They have been clustered into three main categories: Scenarios 1a and 1b "Attempting to Maintain the Status Quo", 2a and 2b "Re-schooling", 3a and 3b "De-schooling". The OECD Schooling scenarios
It appears to me that the OECD Schooling scenarios for the future have developed from a Kublai Khan type of imagining process
“And yet I have constructed in my mind a model city from which all possible cities can be deduced,” Kublai said. “It contains everything corresponding to the norm. Since cities that exist diverge in varying degree from the norm, I need only foresee the exceptions to the norm and calculate the most probable combinations.” P69 Invisible Cities Italo Calvino
Rather than from a Marco Polo thought experiment
“I have also thought of a model city from which I deduce all the others,” Marco answered. “It is a city made only of exceptions, exclusions, incongruities, contradictions. If such a city is the most improbable, by reducing the number of abnormal elements, we increase the probability that the city really exists. So I have only to subtract exceptions from my model, and in whatever direction I proceed, I will arrive at one of the cities, which always as an exception exists. But I cannot force my operation beyond a certain limit: I would achieve cities too probable to be real.” P69 Invisible Cities Italo Calvino
Along with thinking about the existential thoughts of the Ahuriri lagoon flounder I find myself wondering what would have resulted if the OECD contributors had adopted a Marco Polo’s approach to imagining –
I suspect we may have produced a more compellingly audacious document, something without the pervasive sense that ICTs will be ubiquitous, extensive and in some ill defined way the rescuers of future schooling. Check out the "ICT triumphs regardless" positioning of information communication technology throughout the thought document.
1. Attempting to Maintain the Status Quo
Scenario 1.a: "Bureaucratic School Systems Continue"
• The use of ICT continues to grow without changing schools' main organisational structures.
Scenario 1.b "Teacher exodus - The 'meltdown scenario'"
• Widely different organisational responses to shortages - some traditional, some highly innovative - and possibly greater use of ICT.
Scenario 2.a "Schools as Core Social Centres"
• ICT used extensively, especially its communication capabilities.
Scenario 2.b "Schools as Focused Learning Organisations"
• Extensive use made of ICT.
Scenario 3.a "Learning Networks and the Network Society"
• A multitude of learning networks, quickened by the extensive possibilities of powerful, inexpensive ICT.
Scenario 3.b "Extending the Market Model"
• A wide range of market-driven changes would be introduced into the ownership and running of the learning infrastructure, some highly innovative and with the extensive use of ICT.
The uniformity in these ICTs imaginings across all scenarios makes me suspect that it won’t be too long before in Jane Gilbertian like "Knowledge Wave rhetoric " I will hear people in education saying
“I want to start thinking of ICT as a verb and not just a noun."
Thanks to the LanguageLog’s post “I gay, you gay, he gays” – I am completely prepared