Forget Education!

educate (v.) mid-15c., “bring up (children), train,” from Latin educatus, pp. of educare “bring up, rear, educate,” which is related to educere “bring out, lead forth,” from ex- “out” (see ex-) + ducere “to lead”. Meaning “provide schooling” is first attested 1580s.

The etymological definition of the verb ‘to educate’ reveals the inadequacy of the concept as traditionally understood to the 21st century. There is an increasing awareness that there is no world out there patiently waiting, statically, for us to understand it while we become trained and educated adults prepared to deal with it. We are constantly facing a disturbing and exciting demand for change and adaptation… What should (or must) we know? When? How? And, of course, why?

WAIT… did I mention ‘adaptation’? Adaptation to what? New trends and needs that requires from us different kinds of skills and behavior. Right? I have a weird feeling about it. It is intriguing that the world ‘educated’ is still often associated with ‘good manners’ (at least in Portuguese). Although the connotation of the word ‘educate’ changed over time, it seems to be always linked to a kind of training that enables the educated to ‘fit’ in his/her own social space in a specific moment in time.

Innovation is the order of our time, but I fear there is too much optimism in the logic: Technology => Education => Better world.

We certainly have to engage in a debate about the new means to access knowledge, while at the same time questioning the notion of valid knowledge in contrast with everyday (ordinary) information. But inspiring students to become active learners and producers (instead of mere consumers) of knowledge (whatever it is) requires more than a methodological change with the inclusion of technological devices.

Common sense is viral!!!

I would have an issue with the notion of ‘change to make things as usual, all over again’. In the video ‘Digital Learners’, Nichole Pinkard suggests that in some decades, people who do not have the ability to deal with the new technology will be probably considered illiterate, as people who do not know how to read were considered illiterate after the advent of the printing press. So, how can we prevent it to become a new form of exclusion? James Gee, from Arizona State University, is aware of the possibility of segregation (poor kids vs. rich kids), as he expresses at the end of the video.

The idea of active learners seems very atractive, but we should think about our responsibility to create human beings able to stand against the replication of the injustices and inequalities that surround us. I am not sure if instigating them to be even more competitive with the creation and use of games is the best idea. By the way, the idea that they want and need to be the ‘best’ … There is hope, though. I notice a sense of community going on there. None of the activities shown in the video were accomplished alone. And those kids who were interviwed, they have something in their eyes.

But let’s forget education?! Let’s forget formalization?! Let’s forget ready-made concepts?! We should rethink the concepts through which we understand / construct the world. Let’s talk about what is important.

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