Paradigm shift and the (non) future of schools

I want to share some of my Sunday reading and listening with you.

First a blog post by Dave Algoso on his blog “Find What Works”: in the article Kuhn, Chambers and the future of international development he talks about paradigm shifts from science to international development. This is interesting as I myself and many around me are saying that a paradigm shift is needed in international development that appreciates the complexities of the environments we work in. Algoso features two posts by Robert Chambers where he sketches out how such a new paradigm could look like (direct links here and here)

Secondly, a TED talk by Sugata Mitra about the future of schools and learning. His basic thesis: “schools as we know them are obsolete”. One quote that particularly struck me, as the language he uses is very much the one we use when talking about development from a complexity perspective:

… we need to look at learning as the product of educational self-organization. If you allow the educational process to self-organize, then learning emerges. It’s not about making learning happen. It’s about letting it happen. The teacher sets the process in motion and then she stands back in awe and watches as learning happens.

Watch it yourself, it’s about 20 minutes:

4 thoughts on “Paradigm shift and the (non) future of schools

  1. Nadia

    Dear Marcus, thanks for sharing. Learning is discovery and deep learning is self-discovery, asking great questions the pathway to discovery. So all it needs, a hole in the wall and a granny in the cloud asking grat questions! I love it!

  2. Dr. Shawn Cunningham

    Hi Marcus,
    Thank you for sharing your learning.
    I am not sure how universal this paradigm shift is. My children are in a school where it is very clear that it is not just about academic content, but also the discipline of sometimes trying to wrap your mind around something that is not easy. As humans, we try to avoid this. Schools provide structures where children get exposed to discipline, dealing with success and failure, dealing with groups and with bullies.

    Even I am now part of this SNA course that you convinced me to try and I will tell you that the peer pressure of falling behind, and the tough deadlines is what makes me go through the highly structured and carefully prepared path. I have been exploring this topic intensely for 2 years, but quickly jumped over the parts that required me to think very hard. So I have done the exploration thing, but now by going through a carefully planned path I am learning many new things.
    In my work with universities we are faced with the challenge that too many children grow up so democratically that they cannot face any hardship (with hardship meaning grappling with maths or science). So for me there is also a downside to too flexible and open learning.

    More comments to follow once I catch up with the reading you have shared.


  3. Michael Schotensack

    Brilliant! I think there is enough hardship and suffering in everyone’s life to be able to afford to leave it out of learning! Wherever we can choose whether to do anything with joy and enthusiasm or with suffering and the pressure of pain (or avoiding pain), it is obvious what we should choose! So much more when it’s about creating enthusiasm in kids! Especially after what we found out about the learning functions of the brain shutting down when exposed to pain or threat. I think it’s time to leave behind the Victorian mentality in as many fields of human activity as possible. Thanks for sharing, Marcus. You will find some interesting pages on this also in Peter Diamandis’ book “Abundance”

  4. Pingback: Paradigm shift and the (non) future of schools | Complexity Institute Blog

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