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Learning at its Best

cross-post: “network error 80710a06”

I cross post this from my action blog and representation for a new St. Louis community non-profit called “The Disruption Department”.  It is relevant to our discussions around these here parts.  I also seek the thought-support of my fellow coopter@s.  If you could comment over on any of the posts that strike your interest over there, it will help us better articulate the vision as it moves from blog to organization.  Thanks folks.  You can follow the disrupt department @thedisruptdept on twitter.

Anyone who plays online through the playstation network has been frustrated for 5 continuous days by the message listed in the title of this post. It’s especially frustrating, since one of the best games I’ve ever played (Portal 2) came out last week. I beat the single player game on Friday, which before the advent of network connected game systems, would have meant the end of any original experience the game could provide.

Now however, most contemporary games offer multiplayer opportunities online. So…the network being down impedes my ability to squeeze every last drop of wonderment from the game.

Now you’re thinking, there are worse things in the world. And there are!

But there is an allegory here to something I feel is necessary for us to move on from where we are in providing rich and deep learning opportunities to kids.

I’ve already heard people making the connection between the network being down (accompanied by Amazon’s downed servers on Friday) and our over-reliance on cloud-based computing and the internet in general.

“It’s too unreliable” people say. “We shouldn’t rely on something so prone to major outages.”

This is of course true to a certain extent. We should be careful, and putting all our eggs in one basket is irresponsible.

But overreacting to or avoiding networks because of their occasional outages is just as irresponsible.

Many educational proponents of standardized testing and blind adherence to standards, strict and regulated curricula, and teacher accountability make a similar argument.

“This is a crisis” they say. “We have no time to lose!” They emote.

“We must take action now!”

While I agree with the sentiment, reacting to a problem out of fear or anger doesn’t make it a thoughtful solution to the problem.

We can’t fear taking risks because we think we don’t have the time to fail. We can’t fear letting our kids take risks just because they read “below grade level”. And we can’t fear building rich and collaborative learning experiences just because there are “safer” and “better tested” options available.

If you agree that there is a “network error” with the current status of the education system, you’ll agree that something must be done.

But we have options.

Let’s create our own networks that share the burden of risk, and that facilitate the benefits of innovation. Let’s be careful, but bold.

Let’s not chose fear, let’s chose to help our kids thrive.


About mrsenorhill

Director of Innovation, Special Projects @collegeboundstl, Co-Founder and CEO @thedisruptdept, hustling for creation literacy for all; want to cook better.


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