PERVASIVE LEARNING AND RESPECT FOR CULTURAL DIVERSITY Jan Visser Learning Development Institute Learning Without Frontiers UNESCO [email protected] [email protected] http://www.learndev.org http://www.unesco.org/ education/lwf/ Cues: Learning in a networked world Open learning in response to diversity Knowledge and learning in a global context: strategies for the development of the learning environment The mind boggles at an exponential curve… (Koestler, 1967) Global population patterns from 1600 B.C. to the present Reproduced from Sakaiya, T. (1991). The knowledge-value revolution,or, a history of the future (p.111). New York, NY: Kodansha America, Inc. (Original source: Jean-Noel Biraben.) Challenges EXPLODING CHANGE COMPLEXITY Time for reflection We live in a world of exploding change... How do we see ourselves in relation to the universe; the world; the biosphere; humanity; ourselves? If we have a vision of where we come from, who we are, and where we are going, then how does it impact on how we live together and in harmony with our environment? What significance does the above have for how and what we learn, individually and as communities, and the meaning we attribute to learning? Two related perspectives Learning and diversity Learning and values (today’s talk - 19/5/99) (Friday’s talk - 21/5/99) diversity as necessary condition in the environment for growth to be possible learning as dialogical process that mediates among diverse learning entities value of learning (including the value of learning to learn and live together learning of values (including learning of the value of learning and learning of the value of diversity) This is about learning For the purpose of this talk it is considered irrelevant to artificially stress the distinction between learning in distance education and in face-to-face contexts irrelevant to try to draw lines between such domains as formal, non-formal and informal learning. LEARNING IS ONE! The essential nature of learning It is social. It is dialogical. It takes place not ‘in’ ourselves but in “the momentary relational spaces occurring between ourselves and an other or otherness in our surroundings” (Shotter, 1997). It is a process of continual construction, deconstruction and reconstruction. More about learning... It is about yes, indeed, gaining knowledge, acquiring skills or behavior, being able to understand and manipulate symbols but also about much more than that and if it wouldn’t be about more, it would have missed much of what it could have been. LEARNING IS GENERATIVE. Constructive interaction with change Learning dispositions us to interact constructively with change. ‘Constructive interaction with change’ ‘reaction to change’ or ‘adaptation to change’ (which assumes that change is a ‘given’). Instead, ‘constructive interaction with change’ envisions human beings as part of the changing environment, i.e. as actors who engage in intelligent behavior as they see things change around them, aware that by doing so they, too, produce change themselves. Important issues: Learning is pervasive. Learning is lifelong. Learning is essential ingredient of sustainable human development. However: The creation of the conditions of learning at societal level tends to concentrate on limited segments of the learning needs: intentional learning in formal settings closed learning spaces acquisition paradigm (Sfard, 1998). Rich learning environment Learning before, during (inside and outside) and after the school Intended and incidental learning Formal, non-formal, informal settings Multiple spaces for learning – Physical: closed and open architecture – Virtual: varied media infrastructure – Social: different social connections Poor use of rich learning environment Learning before, during (inside and outside) and after the school Intended and accidental learning Formal, non-formal, informal settings Multiple spaces for learning – Physical: closed and open architecture – Virtual: varied media infrastructure – Social: different social connections My argument Perspective on learning requires – broadening – diversification. The learning environment requires greater integrity, completeness, and inclusiveness. Any distance education event must be conceived as an integral component of the learning environment at large. Design concerns must reflect different levels of organizational complexity. Learning environment Broad conception. Ecological metaphor of the learning environment, based on vision of nested frameworks with different levels of organizational complexity different timeframes different connotations of space. Learners and learning communities (learning entities) as complex adaptive systems. Learning entities and the learning environment Learning entities live in the learning environment use resources present in the learning environment are themselves resources that make up the learning environment. LEARNING COMPLEXITY Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS) Characteristics: multiple interacting agents aggregate behavior over and above behavior components non-linear interaction among agents (aggregate behavior sum of behaviors of constituent parts) agents both numerous and diverse capable of self-reorganization (diversity recognized by system) system evolves due to self-reorganization (perpetually novel aggregate behavior [growth] rather than settling for steady state) behavior of agents based on internal models of anticipation Source: Holland, J. H. (1995). Can there be a unified theory of complex adaptive systems? In H. J. Morowitz & J. L. Singer (Eds), The mind, the brain, and complex adaptive systems. Proceedings Volume XXII, Santa Fe Institute, Studies in the Sciences of Complexity. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company Timeframes Learning timeframes Instruction (lesson / term / instructional program) Incidental learning (e.g. media, play , community, culture, etc.) Validity timeframes ephemeral learning experiences < lifetime / = lifetime / > lifetime historical timeframes evolutionary timeframes Critical point A critical point is reached when information and technology become obsolete faster than the approximately 20-year timeframe in which the leadership of one generation is taken over by the next one. “At that juncture the experience of the older generation is no longer all that helpful” (Abraham Pais, 1997). Need to rethink the concept of culture: What should be passed on from one generation to the other? And what is not worth passing on? And what do we in fact pass on? (Virtual/Real) Space-Time Learning spaces, and particularly their architecture (static as well as dynamic), transmit different expectations regarding the timeframes implicit in the learning that takes place inside them. To accommodate greater diversity in timeframes of learning we need to break through the architectural monotony of learning spaces. DEOL has insufficiently delivered on its promise to break with traditions. Diversity issues Communities vary in size, complexity, purpose, ethnicity, belief system, social fabric, language, etc. Individual learners vary in how they pertain to different communities, their thinking styles, learning styles, motivation to learn, aesthetic sense, the stories they grow up with (male/female; old/young), etc. “Adding wings to caterpillars does not create butterflies – it creates awkward and dysfunctional caterpillars” Stephanie Pace Marshall Director, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy DESIGN WITH THE INTEGRATED CONTEXT IN MIND Environmental responsibility of the designer of learning opportunities Traditional instructional design relates to restricted, well-defined contexts Not a call for sloppiness Care for the environment: learning skills metacognitive behavior aesthetic sense participation (empowerment) Design as a participatory activity the learner as participant designer the designer as participant expert designer Opportunities for DEOL to contribute to learning ecology fostering diversity Develop learner autonomy (self-directed and self-motivated learning) and learner self-consciousness. Transform roles of actors, (tutor/mentor, learners, others) creating flexibility and transcending the dichotomy between learning and teaching. Rethink DEOL provider concept and think of roles as hubs and nodes, and opportunities to configure and reconfigure knowledge creation networks, in a networked world: working across languages and cultures exploring integration of learning contexts and modalities accommodating themselves and seeking accommodation in increasingly open structures (comprising the school context, the community, the technology/media environment, etc.) Be conscious of complexity and change. References Holland, J. H. (1995). Can there be a unified theory of complex adaptive systems? In H. J. Morowitz & J. L. Singer (Eds), The mind, the brain, and complex adaptive systems. Proceedings Volume XXII, Santa Fe Institute, Studies in the Sciences of Complexity. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company Koestler, A. (1989). The ghost in the machine. London, UK: The Penguin Group (Originally published in 1967). Pais A. (1997). A Tale of Two Continents. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Sakaiya, T. (1991). The knowledge-value revolution,or, a history of the future. New York, NY: Kodansha America, Inc. Sfard, A. (1998). On two metaphors for learning and the dangers of choosing just one. Educational Researcher, 27(2), 4-13. Shotter, J. (1997). The social construction of our 'inner' lives. Online. Available http://www.massey.ac.nz/~ALock/virtual/inner.htm [1999, March 16]. Notes Acknowledgement The conception of Slide 22 in this series is Manish Jain’s, Coordinator of Shikshantar: The Peoples’ Institute for Rethinking of Education and Development (PIRED), Udaipur, Rajasthan, India. Use of these slides In the interest of dialogue and the growth of understanding, use of these slides is permitted, provided that clear attribution be made to authorship (Jan Visser, except for Slide 22 - see above) and the Learning Development Institute (LDI) <http://www.learndev.org>.