Monday, April 6, 2009

the next salon\ed

The next salon is planned for April 26th, from 2 to 5. It will likely be at Rouge High School, as I've grown to appreciate having a consistent physical environment when trying to get in a particular state of mind. Collette has asked me (Jarred) to lead this time, and hopefully we'll pick somebody else for the May salon.

I would like your help in determining the particular subjects that will be covered at this gathering. A few things have come to mind, but I would like to hear what topics you would like to cover.

Last session we touched on art in public spaces, namely graffiti and what distinguishes it from other mediums. I felt one of the defining factors was that people are exposed to it whether they wanted to be or not. There are many forms of communication a person has to choose to partake in, like going to the cinema or museum, while others are seen if that person wants to go about everyday life, like advertising and public art (both legitimate and illegal). How does one react differently to these? I want to explore if there are any parallels in education: do people learn differently when they feel it is their choice? On a related note, are their benefits of everyone learning the same material rather than students having an individualized course of study? This has likely all been asked and answered through more rigorous academic study then we will be able to achieve, but our discussions will be more relevant to the here and now.

Another subject that I'd like to explore is educating students for the future rather than the past. The nature of bureaucracy makes the system as a whole slow to change, but could individual school systems reevaluate their curriculum yearly to keep pace with the exponentially accelerating pace of society? My first thought is that certain basics, particularly inspiring a passion for independent learning, will allow students to direct their studies in a way a centralized education can never do. This has been a principle of unschooling since that movement started, but I think that is more relevant then ever. In the words of John Holt, one of the philosophy's founders:

Since we can’t know what knowledge will be most needed in the future, it is senseless to try to teach it in advance. Instead, we should try to turn out people who love learning so much and learn so well that they will be able to learn whatever needs to be learned.

This video, recently posted on the excellent new website Soul Pancake, clues us into what I feel is one of the greatest challenges facing an educator in this modern era:

Did You Know? from Amybeth on Vimeo.

Exhausting, eh? Imagine how much faster things will change as more and more people gain the freedom and tools to create culture and advance society. There are billions of people that will be making the world a more complex place at the same time as the youth learns to engage them in away the educators never thought possible. This doesn't downplay the importance of the classic pillars of education; no, it makes them more relevant then ever. But students will be able to learn better and faster if they are effective communicators and have a passion for knowledge.

Please respond in the comments and I look forward to hearing your potential salon_ed topics.

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