Thursday, February 10, 2011

On: A letter to Elise

Ive kept a copy of our exchanges, and in trust i hope Tom does not mind.
But ive found before that a digital world is sometimes ephemeral, sometimes links no longer take me back to where i want to be, so this is a copy of an exchange held in the public spaces of our blogs.
I'd wrap them with a blue satin ribbon if i could, and place then somewhere precious for safe keeping, but the digital makes some things more and less possible.
Thomas' letter to Elise that followed my previous blog, on where the wild things are:

Hi Elise,

I liked a lot of things in your lovely post. I am a great one for “voice” and I listened to the “voice” present in this post of yours.

You (like me also) have looked at the criticism and controversy surrounding Connectivism as a theory of learning. Rather than turn to criticism, you turned to critique, doing the research required to present your points, well-supported, deliciously, eloquently offered to the reader, in this instance, myself.

Oh, the reading of your post was beautiful, and a measured voice, a reasoned voice, a wise voice emerged, to calm the wind, to view the water’s potential to hold us, if we but dare to walk upon it….

My point: Connectivism, as a Theory of Learning for a Digital Age, is not perfect, but perfectible.

In the meanwhile, a calm voice is appreciated, especially for those who defend the status quo, perhaps secretly fearing possible displacement by a digital age which is now demanding it’s own theory of learning.

No, I have erred. The digital age isn’t demanding anything. Real people are. “Who are these real people?”, you ask.

Digital learners. Digital learners, born in a digital age, the children of the digital age, the children of today, who will have to solve the world problems that you and I are leaving them as their lasting inheritance from us.

You see, you and I didn’t solve the problem of world hunger. As we sat at our tables yesterday, there were others who went to bed hungry.

You see, you and I didn’t solve the problem of world peace. As we watched the news on TV last night, maybe enjoying a pizza delivered by the home delivery service, there were people killing, and being killed, somewhere on this planet.

You see, you and I didn’t solve the problem of poverty. The children of the digital age have to live in a world where 1% of the world’s population has 80% of the world’s wealth.

Our digital children are a part of the 99% that’s fighting for a share of the 20% that’s left.

You see, you and I didn’t solve the problem of global warming.

While we talked about the appalling lack of scientific evidence to support such a claim, how Al Gore couldn’t be trusted, how the snow on Mt. Kilamanjaro disappeared in 2000 and came back in 2008 and disappeared again, how severe summers became the global norm, how wild whirlwinds whirled with regularity, and how the very Earth itself quaked incessantly in 2010, our weather and our planet simply became a bit more inhospitable for life itself, human life that is…

These are only a few of the problems we know we are leaving to the children of the digital age to solve. Their brilliance gives us reason to hope, to be optimistic about the future. But here’s the rub: what about those problems that we’re leaving the children of the digital age to solve, that we don’t know we are leaving to be solved?

You know, those problems that no one sees coming, the problems no one has thought about, no one has ever imagined? Will the education of the past century be up to that kind of task?

Listen to the digital age, for it speaks to us:

The digital age cries out: “Look at me! Look at my new clothes! Am I not more beautiful? Look at all my brilliant connections who share knowledge with me now!”

And we, the children of the last century, the vox populi, we too cry out: “We liked you the way you were dressed last year, ten years ago, last century! Was it not enough for you that I, and I alone, your teacher, poured my knowledge from my brain into yours?

Connections? Bah, humbug!

Who needs connections when you have me? Take those new clothes off! Come into my classroom, turn off that cellphone, put away your digital toys, turn off that blasted computer, no YouTube, no Skype, no instant messaging, no social media for you. By Jove, this is a classroom! We are doing education in here! Get in your seat, second row, third desk, behind student number 33.”

Teacher (smiling) “Good morning class. Today I will be telling you all about…”

Connectivism: A Theory of Learning for a Digital Age, is playing catch-up to Connectivism: the Practice of Learning in a Digital Age.

The transformation, the paradigm shift, the revolution, the reformation, call it what you will, but it has already happened.

We are not Einstein, we are not Newton, we are not the makers of the wheel.

No, we are simply describing the wheel: It’s round and it makes getting from Point A to Point B a heck of a lot more enjoyable.

We’ve already been hit on the head by the apple, gravity has happened, and now we explain why that apple fell down, on our heads, rather than rise into the sky…

E = MC squared? Now that was a tough sell, wasn’t it? But if Einstein could do it, working alone in a patent office, a-l-o-n-e, connected to no one but himself, then what do you think Mankind, the children of the digital age, will do, when they connect and share their knowledge?

Oh, I would think that they will solve problems that we children of the past century could not, or would not, solve…

Best regards,

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