SEAD White Paper – Learning Across Cultures

Our paper “Learning Across Cultures” has been accepted by SEAD and posted on their site along with a number of other papers. ‘Our’ refers to Roy Williams, Simone Gumtau and me.

The next stage is a ‘meta-analysis’ of all the actions suggested in the different papers and a review of the papers in line with the review process posted on the SEAD website.

There will be a preliminary presentation of the study at the US National Academy of Sciences in Washington DC at a Leonardo DASER on May 16 2013.

When the study is finalised, our full white paper will be included in the Appendix.

It will be interesting to see the outcomes of the meta-analysis and whether the final report has any impact on transdisciplinary, cross-cultural collaboration between the sciences, engineering, arts and design.

This is how the original call for papers was explained on the SEAD website

We are seeking to survey concerns, roadblocks and opportunities, and solicit proposed actions for enhancing collaboration between sciences and engineering with practitioners in arts and design. These position papers will be submitted as part of a report to NSF and the community from the SEAD network in the summer of 2013. With grateful appreciation for US funding, we recognize that activity connecting the sciences, engineering, to arts and design is international and, furthermore, that global involvements are essential in today’s economy. Therefore we are interested both in what US collaborators can learn from experiences in other countries, and vice versa, institution or region specific issues, and also in how to foster collaborations that bridge beyond regions to nations. Cultural cross-fertilization via the SEAD network – whether from disciplinary, organizational or ethnic perspectives – is a vital component of our purpose and goals.

Footprints of Emergence in CPsquare

We had a great discussion about our recent paper Footprints of Emergence  in CPsquare’s Research and Dissertations Series of presentations last night. By we I mean, Roy Williams, Simone Gumtau and myself and by CPsquare I mean the community of practice on communities of practice.

We had some technical difficulties in getting connected and we were small in number, but if ever there was proof that ‘small is beautiful’ in terms of quality of discussion, it was in last night’s discussion.

Some interesting points came out of the discussion.

Our footprints (see diagram below) could be interpreted at first glance as ‘flat’ and static – a bit like a map. Our paper explains that the opposite is in fact the case, but a dynamic, evolving, adaptive 3D footprint is very difficult to depict without the correct software. This is something we are looking into, but personally don’t have the skills to develop – maybe I am just speaking for myself 🙂

Example of a Footprint

Each footprint is a ‘snapshot’ in time. This was so well observed and noted by John Smith (Community Steward of CPsquare). ‘Snapshot’ describes it so well.  They are also snapshots from an individual, or specific group perspective. John said ‘emergence is in the eye of the beholder’. So true.

The footprints can be drawn prospectively and/or retrospectively, dependent on the context and purpose and we discussed a variety of ways in which the footprints have already been used and the case studies we have published in the paper.

The footprints are about the balance to be achieved between prescriptive and emergent learning. We are definitely not saying that in any given learning environment ‘emergent’ is right and ‘prescriptive’ is wrong, or vice versa.

It is difficult to determine exactly where on the footprints the points should lie at any point in time. In determining this we are very aware that the very next day, next hour, we might place them differently. The value is in the discussion or thinking about where to place them.

John contributed an interesting perspective from his reading of Barry Boyce and James Gimian, The Rules of Victory: How to Transform Chaos and Conflict–Strategies from The Art of War (Boston & London: Shambhala, 2009).  and thought that ‘the strange produces the conventional and vice versa’ and that many of the metaphors and issues from the book can be brought over to the same issues that we are discussing in relation to emergent learning. We definitely need to explore this further.

And right at the end of the discussion, the issue of ‘awareness’ was raised. As Roy put it … a possible ‘scenario is that as more people draw more footprints, and they become more ‘aware’ of the dynamics, they are less able to interact with (or in) full ‘awareness’.  This takes us into a whole new realm of discussion for me, so I’m looking forward to seeing how it develops.

But in the meantime – Roy has set up a wiki for further discussion. If you are interested in our footprints framework and would like to contribute a footprint to the wiki, Roy, Simone and I would love to hear from you.

And Roy, Simone and I have decided that our tag for discussions related to this on Twitter, blogs or elsewhere will be #emergentlearning

Dangerous ideas for the future of teaching and learning

A teacher can never truly teach unless he is still learning himself. A lamp can never light another lamp unless it continues to burn its own flame.  The teacher who has come to the end of his subject, who has no living traffic with his knowledge, but merely repeats his lesson to his students can only load to their minds.  He cannot quicken them. Truth not only must inform, but also must inspire.  If the inspiration dies out and the information only accumulates then truth loses its infinity.  The greater part of our learning in the school has been a waste because for most of our teachers, their subjects are like dead specimens of once living things, with which they have a learned acquaintance, but no communication of life and love.

Rabindranath Tagore

Rabindranath Tagore

 

I took this photo of a sculpture of Rabindranath Tagore in the grounds of  Kalakshetra,  a cultural academy dedicated to the preservation of traditional values in Indian art, when I was in Chennai, South India in January.

He was quoted in today’s ChangeMooc presentation by Geetha Narayanan  –  who gave an inspirational talk about the dangerous ideas (or inconvenient truths) that she thinks we need to embrace as educators. She talked of the need for smallness and keeping education local (which is contrary to current moves to scale education through ventures such as the Khan Academy and indeed MOOCs). She suggested a need for slowness, meditation and stillness – an integration of mind and body. Her view is that we also need a disruptive and innovative curriculum. Embracing these ‘dangerous’ ideas will enable our children to cope with an unpredictable future.  It is all about wellness, survival and expanding the inner self.

Geetha talked with such passion and sincerity that everyone was ‘stirred’.  She was not emotional, but through her sincerity managed to model the humanness, consciousness and alive and energetic learning spaces she aspires to.

The recording of her presentation has now been posted. Well worth listening to. Here are the links

Recording:  https://sas.elluminate.com/site/external/jwsdetect/playback.jnlp?psid=2012-02-22.0635.M.3A0EAE843895F0175E240FB3B50AA6.vcr&sid=2008104

Slides:  http://www.slideshare.net/geethanarayanan1/beyond-rhetoric-to-resurgence-and-resonance