Quote: “…fusing a vast informational resource with a deeply personal motivation led to an unexpected, unplanned, or innovative use of the space. In short, the connection between resources and personal motivation led people to cultivate their imaginations and recreate the space in a new way” (p. 31). This quote sums up the first chapter because it describes the importance of embracing change from an obsolete, stable educational culture to a more dynamic, fluid one in the 21st century. This change—the result of constant play with incessant innovations in society—forces imagination and effective collaboration to create even newer innovations.
Question(s): If neither a limitless amount of information (such as the Internet), nor a bound and structured environment (such as our traditional classrooms) are effective for learning as individual entities, and we seem to have plenty of the latter, then why can’t we justify this as motivation to push for strong technology programs to be implemented throughout all schools, regardless of demographic? Why can’t we fight for blended learning programs to be in every school? Why aren’t the policymakers shifting their focus from textbook adoptions to Chromebook adoptions?
Connection: There are clear parallels between the argument for breaking free of this stagnant, 20th century education model, as discussed in chapter 1, and the need for reforming education to prepare our students for an unknown future, as discussed in both EDL 600 and 680. By relying on a stable, knowledge-based education system that we have in place today, driven by standardized testing, we are setting limitations on the minds of our students. It will be a frightening thought to see American education be like a broken-down vehicle on the side of a freeway that is moving too fast for anyone to stop to help.
Epiphany: The greatest epiphany I got from this chapter was the connection between play and true creative thinking. Of course it makes sense that in a stable environment, we grow out of play and become complacent. It made me think of my 21-month-old son, who loves to play with my iPhone. He doesn’t really know how a phone works, nor has he ever used or played with an old rotary phone. But in a matter of a few sessions, he figured out not to touch the screen while a video is playing or it’ll stop. He also realized that turning the phone made the screen re-orient itself. He is playing with the phone and is using that play to discover new things (well, new to him anyway). And yet, many elderly people struggle to adjust to new technology; they’ve forgotten how to play. Play is essential for change, and it also brings us together as a community.
Chapter 2: A Tale of Two Cultures
Quote: “Unlike the traditional sense of culture, which strives for stability and adapts to changes in its environment only when forced, this emerging culture responds to its surroundings organically. It does not adapt. Rather, it thrives on change…” (p. 37). This quote points out the primary difference between the two cultures discussed in this book so far: stable cultures versus emerging cultures.
Question(s): How to we convince policymakers who write the standards for measuring growth and progress that it’s ok to not know the answers, or “get” the information being taught as rote? How do we prove that it’s ok to “embrace what we don’t know,” and continue to seek more about those unknowns using technology and structured learning environments grounded in inquiry (p. 38)?
Connection: Will Richardson’s, Why School? stresses the importance of transferring power to the students, and that’s what I think we are seeing is key to adjusting to emerging cultures in our own classrooms. We don’t always have to have set measurable outcomes, as there will sometimes be unexpected (yet pleasant) outcomes, too. Yong Zhao’s, Catching Up or Leading the Way also discusses the irony of the United States striving to become more proficient through standardized education and tests, like China, yet China is shifting toward becoming more innovative and creative, like the United States in the mid-20th century. Zhao points out that the U.S. holds more patents than any other country in the world, yet if we continue to move toward more standardized learning, the room for “emerging cultures” will begin to dissipate.
Epiphany: An epiphany I had in this chapter came with the discussion about learning environments and “broken” schools (p. 36). It makes sense that environments really can’t break, but it’s the lack of blending cultures and systems that keep schools from emerging. Great structured environments coupled with powerful technology can lead to amazing innovation.
Chapter 3: Embracing Change
Quote: “And therein lies the major pitfall of the twenty-first century’s teaching model—namely, the belief that most of what we know will remain relatively unchanged for a long enough period of time to be worth the effort of transferring it…the pool of unchanging resources is shrinking…” (p. 40). This is powerful because it points out the complacency and pride we place on knowledge-based thinking. It’s great to know a lot of facts, but those facts don’t necessarily help with new issues and problems that have no set solutions. We need to teach play and embrace failures as learning opportunities toward innovative solutions to complex problems.
Question(s): How can we convince those individuals who aren’t on board with the idea of embracing change due to an unwillingness to compromise their obsolete, stable ways? Will those people inhibit progress? Will we have to carry the weight of everyone with fixed mindsets?
Connection: In EDL 600, we have been assessing the needs of our own schools in order to create a proposal related to improving technological systems in our classrooms. If all of us spread this energy toward creating positive change for the sake of our students and their futures, then maybe we can help expedite the destruction of the fixed, standardized, obsolete education system. In that case, everyone will have to adjust to a new paradigm of thinking and learning in America, one that is constantly evolving.
Epiphany: My epiphany in this chapter was that pride holds us back. When we are prideful of our stable culture of complacency and unchanged thinking, we rarely take risks and embrace new innovations without constant scrutiny. We want to conform and not lead. This was the case with the adaptation to colored TV from black and white. That took 70 years, whereas the more complex adoption of the Internet and computers took only ten. When we are forced to embrace change and adjust to it in order to appreciate the latest and greatest innovations (such as new cell phones every other year, for example), we are also allowing ourselves to truly realize that nothing is absolute anymore. We won’t be able to accept the former way of thinking as something we can revert back to, either. That would be the opposite of progress.
Thomas, D & Brown, J.S. (2011). A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change. Lexington: CreateSpace.