New thinking and the power of unanswered questions…

Well, I haven’t made time to write in the last week and a half.  Shame on me.  I felt especially slackish after seeing how Tony used his “just playing around” time this past week…  So awesome!!

My reflections over the past week or so have been reminiscent of the entire semester…  What is it about technology, media, teaching, learning – the human brain…?  How is this coming together for me?  With lots and lots of questions.  More questions.  Better questions?

neuroI opined to Gardner a few weeks ago about how I wish there was a neuroscientist in our group – so many of the readings, ponderings, and discussions seemed to repeatedly bring me back around to thinking about how we think and how our brains operate as human beings.  Why hasn’t “artificial intelligence” risen to the level of human performance?  How do you design opportunities for learning that meet the diverse needs of a group (whatever the size) of learners with unique brains, experiences, backgrounds, needs and thinking styles?  How can we best balance breadth with depth?  What role do “the rules” play?   How can we better understand the opportunities that exist in “filling in the blanks”?  How do we design opportunities for learning that preserve the “in between” space where learners can explore the blanks?  How do we inspire motivation to do so?  So many of these questions are inherently intertwined with the workings of the human brain and things like cognition and motivation.

Much of this re-inspires my curiosity about how the human brain works, and what patterns of cognition make us uniquely human – and beyond that, uniquely individual.  Why has AI failed?  (And I get that it hasn’t entirely – there are plenty of intelligent systems, but I’m not aware of any that can be described as seeming to replicate human thinking/intelligence and interactions or relationship-building.)

irrationalI imagine it’s largely because humans are not entirely rational beings.  We often employ reasoned irrationality.  Reasoned irrationality.  We make decisions and do things that do not appear to make rational sense, or fit “the rules,” or set up desired outcomes – yet it’s still not completely random.  There’s always a reason that on some level makes sense to us (barring mental illness or some other altered state condition… and maybe even then?) – otherwise, we would not choose that path.  And yet it’s still not predictable.  How could you program that?

There are so many questions I don’t have answers to…  Why does my three-year-old seem to loathe pants?  Why don’t people care to follow the directional arrows in the Kroger parking lot?  Why is changing a small piece of the world sometimes quite satisfying, and sometimes frustratingly not enough?  Just how, exactly, is bacon so awesome?  Noticing and considering the questions, playing on the fringes of them, brainstorming with others about them – leads to insight and discovery,  even if the initial question remains unanswered, or problem unsolved.  That’s what I’ve gained most from this semester’s seminar experience.  That, and the reminder to make time for these explorations, for diverse relationships, for fun, and for pushing some boundaries.

Thanks, all!