Nugget #4 – Dream Machines

         “In ordinary schooling, the victim cannot orient himself to the current topic except by understanding the official angle of approach and presentation. Though tie-ins to previous interests and knowledge are usually the best way to get an initial sense of a thing, there is only time to consider the officially presented tie-ins. (Neither is there time to answer questions, except briefly and rarely well—and usually in a way that promotes “order” by discouraging “extraneous” tie-ins from coming up.)

         The unnecessary division and walling of subjects, sequencing and kibbling of material lead people to expect simplifications, to feel that naming a thing is understanding it, to fear complex wholes; to believe creativity means recombination, the parsing of old relations, rather than synthesis.” – Ted Nelson

Since this is part of what I’m interested in researching, I had to go with one of Nelson’s many statements about schooling. A lot of his claims about the schooling system struck me as extreme! And while I agree with a lot of them, I would certainly need to get evidence to back them up if I want to include them in my research.

“Rather than seek to achieve in the way they are supposed to, students turn to churlishness, surliness, or intellectual sheepishness. A general human motivation is god-given at the beginning and warped or destroyed by the educational process as we know it; thus we internalize at last that most fundamental of grownup goals: just to get through another day.”

As far as I know, the educational system we use has not changed much since this was written-which is incredibly surprising; the world seems to be changing at an incredibly fast pace, but the education we provide our future citizens remains the same.

Granted-I was given a laptop in high school. But I used it to type papers, and make power-point presentations; in retrospect, all of those things could be done without using technology. So new really new aspects were introduced to students, even though the technology was there to benefit their learning! (Please comment and tell me if your experience with technology in school was different.) But the ideas that Nelson imagined certainly haven’t occurred within the public school system.

If they had, what would be different? Would we have totally moved away from traditional schools and morphed our schooling techniques into some sort of motivated self learning (an interesting concept,  Dr. Campbell gave me some ideas to explore within it) ? While students certainly benefit from being taught in person, how much more could they benefit from also teaching themselves?

And while that might be a little far-fetched for our society currently, there are still some of Nelson’s concepts we could move towards to improve our learning by utilizing computers! A lot of which might simply have to do with reorganizing our interfaces to make them more accessible; but we have to dream it to make it possible, and share our dreams with the world, teaching them to learn. That’s what this class is all about, isn’t it?!


3 thoughts on “Nugget #4 – Dream Machines”

  1. A very thoughtful post indeed. And wait, there’s more:

    Today I contacted Ted Nelson for a dry run of the Google Hangout we’ll be doing on Thursday. I shared your post with him. He seemed very touched. I thought you’d want to know.

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