Friday, March 21, 2008

Knowing What You Don't Know

Australian universities are calling for a new kind of learning, and a new kind of student - for 21st century success in work and life - personally, nationally and globally .

The new learning is about somebody who
  • knows what they don’t know
  • knows how to learn what they need to know
  • knows how to create knowledge through problem solving
  • knows how to create knowledge by drawing on information and human resources
  • knows how to make knowledge collaboratively
  • knows how to nurture, mentor, and teach others
  • knows how to document and pass on personal knowledge
In many ways the TQA subject Student-Directed Inquiry on which this course is based is a response to this call.

The document New Learning: A Charter for Australian Education goes on to say that good learners are able to
  • take the many different kinds of raw material in the world (culturally and location-specific information)
  • work out the different interpretative frameworks within which that information sits (different worldviews, theories, belief systems— professional, cultural, technical)
  • use these understandings to do something that works in the world (transfer of understandings, transformation of their immediate world, being a change agent, crossing a cultural boundary)
This week's 30 minute presentation introduced students to some of the beliefs, assumptions and worldviews that underpin contemporary western culture. It began with a quick online survey of the personal beliefs and assumptions of the class. The survey contained the following statements among others:
  1. Thought is due to brain activity
  2. Reasoning is the highest human skill
  3. The best way to understand something is to take it apart
  4. Love is mostly a chemical/ hormonal reaction
  5. Ultimately there is little purpose to human life
The majority of the 30 students who completed the survey appear to hold beliefs and assumptions arising from positivism, reductionism and materialism. Have they questioned these assumptions? How will these assumptions affect their project and research methods? How do they affect their views of the future of the world?

While more than half believe that the planet does not have a positive future 87% believe that learning is a natural human activity and 94% believe that there is still much to discover - maybe the future will be more positive than they believe :-)

The presentation this week looked at the nature of a 'worldview' and then went on to propose that having a conceptual framework such as Four Quadrant Integral Theory allows one to look for what we may not be seeing...

While there was applause for an entertaining presentation some are not convinced that this discussion has anything to do with their project or research... I look forward to some interesting conversations...


bugs said...

Headache inducing stuff, I think I need a panadol

Aletia said...

I second that...