Thomas and Brown (2011), in describing the new culture of learning, are optimistic. They see the new drivers of learning as play and motivation and their examples illustrate the potential of the new technological and social media tools to harness users’ imagination. They are paying attention. Educators who are paying attention have a very optimistic view of the future of learning. It does involve transforming what is currently happening in schools.
The divergence that I witness between what happens in classrooms on a day-to-day basis and what is possible in learning, is growing. In fact, if it were to be illustrated in a Venn diagram there would be a struggle for any overlapping area to occur. What I have always found interesting is that we are talking the talk – the Australian Curriculum talk, the “big ideas”, the 1-to-1 imperative, the importance of technology – but what we are actually doing is replacing the slate with something new and shiny. But the old way is becoming less effective, as Thomas and Brown underline. The old way is marked by competition, by ownership of one’s own work, by ranking. The new way is collaborative, peer-to-peer learning and networks that breach the classroom walls. The problem is that most educators, schooled in the old way, won’t let go. Assessments still demand ranking, right and wrong, individual work and fear of not getting the right answer. Structures in schools make the old way the way to go, despite the rhetoric.
Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011) A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Lexington, KY: CreateSpace.