Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Learning and imagination

I recently was informed of an unsuccessful grant application. It is always sad to miss the money but I was far more concenred about the nature fo the reviewers comments.

In this project we were hoping to set up an approach to trial a different approach to teacher education in some Indigenous communities in Queensland. Underpinning the approach was a rejection of Indigenous defict. Aboriginal people have some of the oldest learning systems in the world; systems that supported a sustainable culture for tens of thousands of years. Our proposal sort to give teacher education students an opportunity to explore and explain learning systems from their own culture and then, through sharing information, to engage with knowledge about learning from other cultures. The intent was to place western thinking on learning inlcuding behaviourist, cognitive and constructivist theories alongside and not over traditional knowledge. We were looking to use the multimedia capacities and sharing opportunities fo web 2.0 technologies to support this project.

The reviewer of our application thought it a 'laudable goal' to upskill the IT skills of Indigenous people. Here capital 'E' Education is stick in a neo-colonial discourse that maintains the idea of Indigenous lack and so the democratic opportunities of this sharing medium we have invented are not being realised.

Having said that, I am very concerned that the sharing potential of these technologies is being used to support poorly informed popularism. With our post-modern assumptions, we feel entitled to share information without inititaion. I have no right to share information about community knowledge from a northern Queensland community as I am not initiated. I can point to what peopel from those communties have said, but I have no knowledge myself. Does this cultural practice inform what we do in higher education? In a world of super networks and easily shared knowledge, how do we respect the deep understandings that come through initiation into the disciplines?

My colleague at UC writes of some other limitations of the educational imagination here.

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