Over the past twenty years there has been much talk about 21stÂ Century learning skills and the use of technology in education. It may be the opinion of some people that when planning for the use of technology in a school the language would be focused on software, hardware,Â inputs, outcomes, information, etc. There would be little consideration of the importance of building, creatingÂ or exploring. This cannot be said of the recent work of Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown. In their book,Â A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change (2011); creating, play and experimentation are all explored in detail. They ask the question, “What if students were asking questions about things that really mattered to them?” (Thomas and Brown, 2011, Ch. 6)
Their invocation is for teachers to develop a new culture of learning designed to meet the needs of students todayÂ . â€œOnly when we care about experimentation, play, and questions more than efficiency, outcomes and answers do we have a space that is truly open to the imagination.” (Thomas and Brown, 2011). They see technology as a participatory medium, and that “simply unleashing students on the Internetâ€ doesn’t create a good learning environment â€œany more than lecturing and testing them more does.” (Chapter 3)
The idea that lecturing and testing are not the roads to good learning is not a new one. Ted Aoki, in his 1987 work Inspiriting the Curriculum (Pinar, Irwin, & Aoki, 2005) writes, that for the work in a classroom to come alive “the curriculum itself has to contain, said or unsaid, an invitation to teachers and students to enter into it.” (p. 362) The idea that what is to be learned “is invited” (Aoki, 2005) into the classroom by both teachers and students is an enticing one; one that I see fits well with Thomas and Brown’s vision of a new culture of learning. Can you see the connection between Aoki’s ‘inviting curriculum in’ and Thomas and Brown’s description of “an environment where learning happens on a continuous basis because the participantsÂ are internally motivated to find, share, and filter new information onÂ a near-constant basis.”(Ch. 9)? There is a strong connection between inviting and finding, sharing and filtering new learning.
As a teacher and parent I would like to see us let go of our search for 21st Century learning skills. The 21st Century is here and we need to embrace a “new culture of learning” (Thomas and Brown, 2011) now. We can teach in ways that bring to life the words “where imaginations play, learning happens.” (Thomas and Brown, 2011, Ch. 1)
Pinar, W. F., Irwin, R. F., & Aoki, T. T. (2005).Â Curriculum in a new key: The collected works of Ted T. Aoki.Â Mahwah, NJ, USA: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011).Â A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for aÂ world of constant change. [Kindle Edition]. doi: 10.4236/ce. 2012.33057
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