This blog was first posted on eelearning.com on 2/26/09.
christopher sessums links to this very interesting video on you tube in which john seeley brown discussed the idea of learners as tinkers and drawing concepts from the old one-room schoolhouse paradigm as a means for “kids learning from kids.” the video is wonderfully provocative, as brown always is so I’ve linked to it in case you’d find it interesting.
my interest though has to do with sessums’ commentary that if you change “kids” to “teachers” in brown’s video we’ll be closer to the real solution. while i totally agree that teachers also need to be tinkerers, i am troubled by the demarcation between teachers and learners that is inherent in both brown’s comments and sessums’ reaction. i firmly believe that as long as we continue to believe that there are those who teach and those who learn from those who teach, we’ll never achieve networked learning that is driven by learner desire.
brown even makes the mistake of tying teaching and learning roles to age. he argues that he can learn from someone a year older than him and they in turn can learn from someone older than them. knowledge and learning are not subject to social stratifications of age, race, wealth, gender, etc. if you know something i’d like to know, i can ask you to share it with me and learn from you whether you have a ph.d. from harvard, an mba from university of phoenix, or are in the 6th grade in thibodaux, louisiana.
in the workplace, this becomes more and more evident. the key is finding who knows what you need to know, learning it to the degree that you need to achieve your goals and then moving on. how do we get beyond the hierarchies and organizations which may have helped move learning forward 100 years ago but seem more and more a restraint in the 21st century?
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What do you think? Are there unhealthy social networks? How can the effects of unhealthy networks be mitigated?