Archive for April, 2016

An article whose viewpoint I share, about the competition and rankings of education institutions.

http://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=20160413131355443

«Competition has colonised our world. Everywhere we go, every step we take we hear the siren call of competition. In higher education, too, we are trapped in a competition fetish»

(…)

«The first is that competition is natural. Thus Darwinian natural selection is fused with what Pierre Bourdieu has called doxa… an unquestionable orthodoxy that operates as if it were the objective truth. Competition is deeply inscribed as common sense. To question competition is to be insane. It is also an act of heresy because competition is seen as central to democracy. The more areas of personal and human life that we subsume under market competition, the more democratic and civilised we appear to be.

The second mind snare is the idea that competition is legitimate and just. We have to make believe that participants have some vaguely equal opportunity at the outset. Riyad Shahjahan and Clara Morgan demonstrate very powerfully that most competitions are rigged. They demonstrate how international organisations create spaces of equivalence across countries with very different geographic, political and economic contexts.

Such contexts are delocalised and depoliticised so that they can be presented as legitimate comparative measures. This competition privileges and valorises templates that derive from centres of power. Peripheral nations and universities thus have to mimic these characteristics even if they have no chance of winning.»

A great article with the constructionist learning vision of MIT Media Lab, inspired by its founder Seymour Papert and written by his disciples.

http://web.media.mit.edu/~mres/papers/Future-of-Work.pdf (password: reviewer)

collage_MIT_Papert_Resnick_001

An antidisciplinary approach to traditional learning «to think creatively, to reason systematically, to work collaboratively and to learn continuously». (…) «…our education systems continue to push children to think and to act like machines…» (…) «One product of the factory model of education is an emphasis on standardized testing to assess the performance of students, teachers and schools.» (…) «We need to stop training students for exams that a computer can pass, and instead prepare them to do the type of creative work that robots and machines won’t be good at.» (…) «Learning is something you do for yourself, and education is something that feels like it is being done to you».

«Media Lab students spend little time in classrooms listening to lectures from faculty members. Rather, they are constantly working on projects and learning through a process of designing, creating, experimenting and exploring». (…)

«The 4 P’s of creative learning:

  • Projects—We learn best when we are actively working on projects—generating new ideas, designing prototypes, making improvements, and creating final products. In the course of working on projects, we learn to improvise, to adapt, to debug, and to iterate. By reflecting on the process of design and iteration, we learn not only to solve specific problems but also to hone our abilities to understand and to design solutions to any problem.
  • Peers—Learning flourishes as a social activity, with people sharing ideas, collaborating on projects, and building on one another’s work. The hardest problems cannot be solved by one person alone, and in our professional lives, we rarely work in isolation. That’s why the ability to engage others in our work and to collaborate with them constructively is so important. Sharing ideas with others, and helping them learn, is a great way to deepen our own understanding, because it requires us to explain empathically what we know. •
  • Passion—When we focus on things we care about, we are likely to work longer and harder, to persist in the face of challenges, and to learn more in the process. Research studies have shown that people make their most creative contributions when they are following their passions, not when they are motivated by external rewards. Rewards and pressure can squash, rather than foster, creative thinking. The educational challenge is to help students identify their passions and then to provide them with the support they need to turn their ideas into realities. •
  • Play—Learning involves playful experimentation—trying new things, tinkering with materials, testing boundaries, taking risks, iterating again and again. Play teaches us how to fail early and often, and how to learn from our failures. These skills are critical for entrepreneurs— or anyone who wants to innovate. We need to recognize that different people play and learn in different ways, and we need to provide them with the space and time they need for exploring their own paths.»