Matthew Stevens Research

Background and Research Question

Wed, August 5, 2015 in

The formulation of the business of the philiosophy of education does not mean that the latter should attempt to bring about a compromise between opposed schools of thought, to find a via media, nor yet make an eclectic combination of points picked out hither and yon from all schools. It means the necessity of the introduction of a new order of conceptions leading to new modes of practice. It is for this reason that it is so difficult to develop a philosophy of education, the moment tradition and custom are departed from. (Dewey, 1938/1997, p.5)

What is Education and who is it for?

According to Wittgenstein, we are all held captive by a ‘picture’, locked into a ‘form of life’, embedded in a particular ‘language game’ (Peters, Burbules & Smeyers, 2010). This is particularly true of education where there is a dominant meta-narrative about what education is and who it is for. Education is generally thought of in terms of a system, or a process, through which people go through to become ‘educated’. This can happen at various levels, from vocational (skills) training to the production of so-called ‘critical’ and ‘creative’ thinkers. This picture of education, with its system, institutions and qualifications, as well as its notion of an ‘educated’ person, is embedded in and maintained by education and academic language games.

The Education ‘System’ Limits Learning Possibilities

From a post-structural perspective this picture of education, as a system, could be viewed as a means of control, where rather than encouraging divergent and critical thinking, it is limiting it in order to maintain and serve the purposes of the overarching socio-economic system. It is a way of producing more educated individuals for the system. In other words, to produce more types of people required for the system to function efficiently (accountants, doctors, lawyers, software developers etc.). According to Lyotard (1979/1984), knowledge in this context is legitimated by its contribution to the efficiency of the system.

The education system, or ‘form of life’, is embedded in, and maintained by educational institutions, qualification frameworks, and established teaching and learning approaches. It is also predicated on an assumption (to a certain extent) that the teacher/lecturer is the ‘expert’ in their field and imparts their knowledge and expertise on their less knowledgeable students. In other words, knowledge is seen as distributed in a one-to-many relationship from the expert to the novice.

However, particularly within rapidly evolving creative technology domains, this approach is problematic and limits potential learning as well as different ways of thinking and looking at things. In these domains, the current ‘knowledge’ or ‘knowing’ does not necessarily reside within the institution, the ‘expert’ teacher or within textbooks, but within the domain of practice itself, emerging from the interactions of individual practitioners with their various situations and with each other (Cormier, 2008). This form of knowledge production, enabled by open connecting technologies and predicated on attitudes and philosophies of openness (Peters & Roberts, 2012) is both dynamic and decentered.

The Research Question

If we can start from scratch and not be bounded or restricted by existing educational institutions, qualification frameworks and pedagogies, how could we approach teaching and learning within rapidly changing creative technologies domains given the affordances of openness and connecting technologies?

References

Cormier, D. (2008, June 3). Rhizomatic Education : Community as Curriculum [Blog post]. Retrieved from
http://davecormier.com/edblog/2008/06/03/rhizomatic-education-community-as-curriculum

Dewey, J. (1997). Experience & Education. New York, NY: Rowman & Touchstone. (Original work published 1937)

Lyotard, J. (1984). The postmodern condition: A report on knowledge. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. (Original work published 1979)

Peters, M. A., Burbules, N. C. & Smeyers, P. (2010). Showing and doing: Wittgenstein as a pedagogical philosopher. Boulder, Colorado: Paradigm.

Peters, M. A. & Roberts, P. (2012). The virtues of openness: Education, science, and scholarship in the digital age. Boulder, Colorado: Paradigm.

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