Mōhio – knowledge

Possible dream jobs of the future: organic fashion designer, robot rights lawyer, rainforest reconstructor, dinosaur breeder, or even solar plane racer… As a teacher today, I am preparing learners for an uncertain future, full of unimagined possibilities!

The rate of technological change is at an exponential rate.
As a child, I would imagine being able to access knowledge anywhere and anytime (I wanted limitless books – a library on demand!)… I had no idea that would become reality in my lifetime. We cannot predict now what will be available in our world in 2025… or 2035?!

The future options available are unimaginable to us now…
The rate of technological change has an impact on us in small ways – recently the first AI robotic lawyer, ROSS, was hired; and a self-driving vehicle caused the first fatal accident of its kind leaving us to wonder who was at fault; man or machine? As the world as we know it becomes more like the dystopic Sprawl imagined by William Gibson, there are questions raised about what is important to teach the youth of today about the possibilities of tomorrow?

What is knowledge? Is it an idea, or an action?

Knowledge as Informative / Noun: Blocks of facts (who, what, when, where) and ideas (how, why) that help us navigate the world.

Knowledge as Transformative / Verb: A process of becoming (rather than being) that is specific and unique to each person.

Knowledge definition is impacted by your view of reality. Here we encounter metaphysics and two differing ontological views:

  1. that perception is reality (external and same for all)
  2. that process is reality (internal and uniquely constructed)

So, how do we know things at all?

In a nutshell, humans use reason and evidence to construct knowledge and understanding. Even then there is an element of choice – we must choose to believe that what we discover is true, and fits with our developing theories and assumptions about the world.

How do we decide what is valuable to know? Who decides? Why?

  • Enculturation of people as a social purpose for education, so that we share similar values and belief as a community, and can live harmoniously.
  • Qualification or gaining useful skills and knowledge which has value as a commodity, can be quantified, measured and exchanged for a fee.
  • Subjectification of individuals, or the self-directed growth in areas of interest and critical thinking that keep us satisfied as individuals.

The intent to create a predictable and measurable education outcome (treating schools as enculturation or qualification factories, churning nameless masses into ‘ideal’ citizen workers) takes away the spontaneous and innovative development opportunities of individuals. Personalised flexible learning pathways are increasingly important, yet education cannot be a sovereign or chaotic system without constraint either. There needs to be an option that balances structured, predictable intents with personalisation.

Knowledge is what empowers us to be, to create, to dream, to act, to achieve, and to connect; and the purpose of education is to learn how to learn, to communicate, to unlearn and re-learn, to create, to question, to apply, and to challenge and be challenged… 

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What what assumptions about teaching and learning underlie my teaching practice?

  • A supportive environment recognizes and promotes the acceptance of diverse individuals. Learners need to feel a sense of belonging and safety.
  • Quality learning occurs within a collaborative and constructive community. Learners who work together and encourage each other can focus their combined strengths towards achieving outcomes greater than could be achieved alone.
  • High learning-focused expectations should be clearly communicated. Learners should feel challenged and empowered to strive for their own success.
  • Learners should be encouraged to develop relevant knowledge, flexible skills, and a mindset that enables their active participation in their community and the wider world.
  • The teaching and learning environment is influenced by the relationships developed with the wider community, particularly learners family/whānau.

 

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