Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I want to go to "Tinkering School"

Watch this and imagine. What if schools were really interested in need driven learning and not higher test scores. This kind of learning is deep and wide. The school focused on "doing better" is only interested in being right or wrong. Pleasing the people above and controlling those below. That seems more long and thin thinking to me. We hear a lot of talk from the people in control of education about "personalized learning" but everyone is so afraid to be wrong and make a mistake, perhaps look weak. Nothing personal is able to emerge in this environment.

I am thinking that what may be at the heart of this is the modern notion of technocracy and efficiency. In schools we still suffer from one way communication, from this only silence is able to grow. We do however see an interesting shift developing as more teachers are engaging in dialogue outside of their blocked school rooms. One example is classroom 2.0 . More voices connected to each other grows a harmony of voices. No one is as smart as everyone. This sort of communication becomes collective action within a technical sphere. Andrew Feenberg calls it democratic rationality(p. 108). We are gradually tinkering with the communication system and that challenges the power structure rooted in this notion of being efficient and a universal truth that is tied to subjugated knowledge.

It is difficult to keep this simple but I will try. I now have a new notion of truth and with that a new notion of knowledge. My notion is nebulous like the universe, not thin like a ladder. I want to go to Tinkering school because only when I am in charge and struggle with what I need to know when I need to know it will I learn what I need to learn. Technology is not the servant of my seeking it is the place I play in.


  1. Absolutely ... can't remember where the quote came from but I agree with it ... "The highest points of learning occur in primary school and graduate school" - only there are students encouraged to play, explore and create ....

  2. Oh yes having taught kindergarten for many years as you know I always say,"there is a big gap between kindergarten and grad school."
    What's with that?

  3. The concept of democratic education is one that I am most passionate about. There are a variety of wonderful resources on Free Schools (Sudbury Valley [USA], Summerhill [UK]). I am sure that you would find the writings of John Holt, John Taylor Gatto and Carlo Ricci very very powerful.