by Stephen Downes
May 18, 2015
Excellence is not the only point of education
Doug Belshaw points toward this item from The Conversation in his weekly newsletter. The argument is that we should not allow business words, like 'excellence', to seep into education. "David Cameron has reminded us once again that our children and young people should aspire towards excellence.... This sort of discourse simply reinforces what we’ve known for some time: corporate mentality has hijacked education." I agree that we shouldn't adopt the language of business and commerce , that we should encourage children to be 'little entrepreneurs', but honestly, it's better than the military metaphors that have permeated the language of education up to this point. I would also observe that the language of 'excellence' has been a part of the language of education for decades, for generations. But the point about the metaphors is a good one. When I was a child we were encouraged to see ourselves in the shoes of scientists and explorers. These were our heroes. They still should be, in my view.
The coming hundred years, in one hundred words
Kevin Kelly invited his friends to contribute a 100-word prediction of the world in a hundred years. It's always interesting to think about how I would respond. But first, Kelly: "The most recurring hope/expectation is of a new energy source... Second is the deepening merger of the digital and physical into a holistic internet of everything. The third most common vision is the rise of artificial intelligence and artificially intelligent robots, who transform our economy into one of plenitude and creative work/play. A minor fourth thread is the spread of education in new modes, with universal reach around the globe, and lifelong." And now, here's mine:
We used to think of wood as warm, once, but now we associate the warm glow of glass, ceramics and stone with our home and hearth; they change colour when we touch them, radiate light and warmth, connect us to the world around us (or to our memories, whichever we prefer). Our would of work centres around applying value to decisions; we communicate with our machines and with each other through a mélange of art and artistry - we live as ethical beings in worlds of fantasy and imagination, each of us the heroes of our own story, and our machines interpret these lives and make the decisions that foster our best selves, provide for our material well-being, and see us as a species grow from seedlings struggling for existence to flowers illuminating the heavens.
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