Sunday, July 25, 2010

Connectivism, the new educational paradigm?

I'm a fan of Guy Claxton Wise Up (Visions of Education) and his work on life-long learning and the power of the mind in non-traditional education, yet to me there was always something missing. His three tenets of Reflection, Resilience and Resources made me think of a Knight (on horseback). The Knights helmet was so shiny, yet the visor had the merest crack in it, and like the Lenard Cohen song, that was to let the light in - not to see the outside world, but to reflect on what was inside themself. Why have some of the wisest protagonists in stories been blind? Does it allow them to focus on their inner world and not be distracted by the shifting sensory cacophony around them? So that is the core of learning as espoused by so many great thinkers (Dewey, Polanyi, Einstein; the list goes on...), that knowing yourself and exercising your imagination is the wellspring of learning and of thus embracing the change you perceive as necessary.

The second point is resilience. The Armour and a shield to protect this mindfulness from the slings and arrows of failure, to enable you to live to fight another day and learn from your mistakes - by reflecting on what worked and what didn't. It provides a level of confidence that you can take on the world safely, with all its detractors and pits and trap falls of counterpoints. You can trust yourself to fight your best fight without wasting your energy on doubt and negativity.

Lastly, Claxton wrote of resourcefulness, which I saw as the long lance clutched firmly in the Knights gauntlet. It was both offensive and defensive. It keeps people at bay, and can skewer them like a kebab if they have the affront to challenge. It could also be utilised in myriad ways. It could be used as a flagpole when travelling, carrying your standard for all to see for miles around when held upright in your stirrup, or even as the tent pole to pitch your canvas over when resting. A very handy tool - but an inanimate object.

For me the vision lacked the Charger, the Relationship part of the connectivist paradigm. The trusty horse that enabled you to travel to far-away lands and make connections with different kingdoms. Also the knight as a chess-piece is the most innovative mover; it provides the hook from left field that feeds innovation (like the weak ties in Social/Organisational Network Analysis). And it is dynamic and taps into how we are social creatures at heart. Behaviourism, Cognitivism and Constructivism all focus on the individual, just like the Knights Helmet, Shield and Lance does. But wasn't the Round Table the real strength of Arthurs' kingdom? United we stand, etc? Gestalt shows us that we are greater than the sum of our parts