John Pederson has organized a study group of some really smart educators (and me) to talk about The Cluetrain Manifesto, as it applies to teaching and learning in the twenty-first century. There is still plenty of time to jump on board. The URL for the session moodle is:
John did an interesting thing with the 95 thesis of the Manifesto. He remixed it, taking references to markets, and replacing them with learning, and occurrences of companies become schools and customers became parents & students. The first assignments were to comment on the original 95 and its relevance today, and then to comment on the education remix. I answered both with the same statement. What can I say. The cat ate my brain.
As I read through the 95 thesis, I see a proclamation that we have moved beyond a an industrial or mechanized treatment of information to something that is different, and probably not yet settled enough for a really good label.
It goes way beyond the industry of publishing, and includes how we treat readers. Demographics implies sorting through people and placing them together into bins for appropriate treatment. We aren’t beyond this in education as we are asked to increasingly depend on research-based, scientifically proven techniques, assuming that by studying groups of students and their behavior, we can concoct teaching techniques that will work with categories of children.
It turns teachers into technicians, who pull out of their toolboxes the prescribed and sometime scripted techniques to address the needs of groups of students. Although research is very useful, teaching isn’t like this. It is an ongoing, evolving, powerful, and playful conversation between humans, with the goal to help children to become better people.
There is no doubt that our customers are getting smarter. 17 IQ points since the 1940’s, which is almost impossible to reconcile except that these kids play video games. However, there are lots of holes in their smartness. They still need us. And the best way to help them is from their networks — from their information environment. Networks are going to happen. Do we try to control them, or do we use them?
Finally, I suspect that we have no choice but to rely more and more on conversations. In a time of rapid change, it’s the only way. We can’t rely on a publishing industry that takes years to produce materials. We can’t rely on state and federal governments to keep us in line with the world that we and our children are experiencing. Schools of Education are in the wrong place and the wrong time to believe that they can prepare career educators. It must become an ongoing, evolving, powerful, and playful conversation. As publishers, governments, and schools of education understand and participate in this conversation, they will remain relevant.
Teachers and administrators who do not will be ignored by their students.
Please consider joining in to this excellent opportunity. You don’t have to participate. Just read and think.