If you go to the website of our friends at WordPress and take a look at what’s currently being published under their “education” tag, you find he following header:
IN 1966, THE UNITED NATION’S INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS DECLARED that “education is the primary vehicle by which economically and socially marginalized adults and children can lift themselves out of poverty and obtain the means to participate fully in their communities.” That still rings so true, and yet, barriers remain. Even in developed nations, a good education can be hard to find. But there’s also encouraging news on the horizon, and its name is technology, a realm where classrooms need not be physical spaces. [3Di’s emphasis. Please note this does not say that 5 GCSEs or examination passes are the ‘primary vehicle’. Education is the primary vehicle.]
This is one way of expressing the idea that learning can take place literally anywhere, and, with the aid of technology, ideas and information can be instantly available to anyone with access to a decent phone, laptop or desktop computer, at the click of a button. (Even the absence of home broadband or a dial-up connection need no longer be an obstacle to connecting your laptop to the Internet, as long as it can connect to a wi-fi ‘hotspot’. And if you have a decent 3G smartphone you can now create your own ‘hotspot’ using ‘tethering’ , wi-fi and 3G, which will allow up to eight nearby laptops to use their wi-fi to get a fast connection to the net.)
What’s more, with the aid of technology, your OWN ideas and information can also be shared at the click of a button, which is where people like the folks at WordPress, Blogger, YouTube, Flickr, Facebook and Twitter come in. Anyone and everyone can, and in our opinion should, become a writer, a reporter, an author, a teacher and a publisher. This is the exciting thing about relatively recent developments in technology, which all parents and teachers must be aware of, and need to educate themselves about.
Authors Gordon Dryden and Jeanette Vos wrote about these things some years ago in their bestselling book ‘The New Learning Revolution‘ – a book we’ll never cease to publicise and promote since it’s so important for those who would like to understand where education is going in the 21st Century. One of the key purposes of our 3Di blog is to help spead the word about where education is going, and in some places has already progressed to, in our time.
Whether anyone likes it or not both young and old people are self tutoring using the Internet, and are also sharing their own experiences and knowledge on the Internet. New communities of learners and sharers are continuously developing, and, just as Sir Tim Berners-Lee always intended, knowledge is freely available to anyone who can use technology to access it.
The challenge for schools, and for learners, is to become experts at finding and downloading (or bookmarking) information and ideas quickly and painlessly, and also in figuring out which information is worthless, potentially harmful and at best a waste of time. And it’s not clear to us that all schools and all teachers are indeed focusing on these crucial aspects of learning.
Yesterday 3Di held a planning meeting whilst walking in the sunshine down what we’re calling the New Philosophers’ Walk, along the East End’s River Lea, en route to the almost-finished Olympic Park. [Hello Kitty! – our new friend from Washington, USA.] During the meeting information was easily accessed and easily sent. Passing through Hackney Wick it was very apparent that increasing numbers of commercial & industrial buildings are being converted to art galleries, studios and workshops. This is the new world of the new creative industries. How many of our young people are being educated to become part of it?
Looking across the landscape from Hackney Wick, the gleaming towers of the City and Canary Wharf are very apparent in the near distance – no doubt acting as beacons for those with qualifications in business, accountancy, mathematics and so on. World citizens, as well as East Enders and Londoners, are drawn to these places for careers and employment.
The point is, our young people should have, through lifelong learning, various options and choices. The creative industries of Shoreditch, Hoxton, Whitechapel, Bethnal Green, Dalston and Hackney Wick exist cheek by jowl with the traders and bankers of the City and the Isle of Dogs. Thousands of artists and ‘creatives’ now live and work in the new East End, just as thousands are employed in the financial sector.
The point is, our schools – primary as well as secondary, the free as well as the unfree – should be equipping young people with the intelligences, the attitudes and the knowledge, as well as the qualifications, to become self-confident, independent, enthusiastic lifelong learners who can be either independent and self-employed or successful team players in vast corporations. Anything that gets in the way of this entire range of options should be identified and eliminated. For all our sakes.
Incidentally, there were scores of young people of all ages out and about yesterday, being very well behaved, well supervised and well tutored on field trips to study what’s happening in the Olympic Park, its environs and the Lea Valley Regional Park generally. Respect to all the schools and teachers who are promoting and organising this learning through first-hand experience.
It’s another beautiful morning. The magnolias are starting to blossom, and there’s a robin in the cherry tree. Time to wake up and smell the coffee.