The Digital Divide… what we should do about it… or shouldn’t do…

I was just reading this article and then I watched a very stupid music video on a Music TV and I asked myself for the 1000th time… is it all worth the effort? I mean are we living in an illusion? or are we living on planet Utopia? The thing is this, in Malta we also talk about the digital divide – and we hear a lot of moaning and whinging…I cannot do this or I cannot do that, and then we also hear from our young people… “we are NOT interested” – whatever you do or whatever you say – “We ARE NOT interested” – for all your good digital divide propositions… we repeat – “We ARE NOT INTERESTED”… and it seems to get louder each time.

So what happens? If we ignore their voices, we will get scary results – I wonder what would happen… invariably these people would still make it out in the world… possibly the survival of the fittest would apply, but I wonder if the world would still go the way it is going now. So what we’re doing right now… we’re not ignoring their voices, we are bending backwards to meet their demands – we’re offering an easy way to reach tertiary level Education and labeling this as ‘Education accessible for all’. And I try to observe what is happening as a result of that. In Malta, at least, though through other blogs I do realize that situations are comparable elsewhere, we see the emergence of self-organized learning which has nothing to do with schooling. The problem is that at higher Education level, qualities which students show are quite lacking… maybe not across the board, but across my Faculty it certainly is.

My 2cents is this… offer opportunities, broaden the visions for learning, remove the blinkers and make learning at the focus irrespective of faculties, domains and proprietary knowledge. And then let the people come. What I observe is this, children learn all the time, but they cannot learn about the adult world – not yet. They are not prepared. Their experiences, and their visions are still related to their egocentric selves. When they are finally prepared to start learning, at Higher Education, doors start closing – possibly because they wouldn’t have followed a linear path in the given and set Faculty direction. So doors close for those who really want to learn whilst the doors are open to those who by chance or opportunity somehow made it through the linear direction. I say we have to stop this if we want to increase the quality of our Education. This is not a matter of offering  one laptop per child only to bridge the digital divide. I think we have to bridge another divide. This is the divide of the status quo… of doing things as we have always done. We need to change from the top – the brain needs to drive the change in the other parts of the body – otherwise we will not get anywhere… and let the needs drive the change. If people have to do something they will do it. If you spoil people, they will not learn… they don’t need to learn… theoretically schools these days are rather useless IF we tell exactly our kids what they need to learn and when to regurgitate it on paper. So what I say is this: OPEN Education, invest in the adults and broaden the opportunities. The change in schools, classrooms and Education will follow the societal needs. It has to… for people to survive.

… the state of Education (that which cannot be seen)

I always follow Doug Belshaw’s blog posts with enthusiasm and I have to say that most of the interest in social media research in Education was sparked off through his blog posts and network contacts.

His new post “Education: it’s what you can’t see that counts” can very much be said to apply to the local situation in Malta. There seems to be a lot of things which we can see and possibly numbers that we can quote… for example the students who follow post-secondary Education… or the MATSEC passes … or the people who gain entry into Higher Education… however – really and in all honesty… what does it all mean? what do all these numbers mean?

In reality, qualitatively – what is the situation in schools? what are the teachers making of it? Why is it that when I visit a school which belongs to the old system before this much debated and discussed “reform” I meet teachers who are inherently happy, motivated and help each other to work on being more productive with their students whilst when I visit  schools belonging to the new reform system I am encountering increased discouragement, almost a sense of disengagement from schools? These things are not “seen” – they aren’t tangible but they very much make up the essence of the Educational system. Maybe when we speak about successes and failures we should in reality look at these before talking numbers.

A blog for every “thinking” occasion

I stumbled across Paolo Coelho some time ago, and the first book I ever read from him was ‘The Alchemist‘ – of course 🙂 I fell in love with the book, with the writings. I remember still thinking about it, long after I had finished reading it … maybe even today.

I read it when I want to reflect a bit… this blog and in particular this post: My Master and I – Boredom by Paolo Coelho, is quite adept at describing the society we live in…it describes the essence of boredom which seems to reside in people as if it is some kind of alter ego, a kind of Jekyll and Hide…a constant tug between the part of the person who wants to change the routine and the other part who revels in the safety of not changing the routine.

It seems that people are creatures of habit – we are safe in what we know or what we think we know. “What is reality?” – It is that what we imagine it to be.

It reminds me of a parable I once heard and which I still think about. It is Plato’s Parable of the Cave and in essence it is a simple allegory which covers many complex issues. The parable discusses how a group of people are held inside a cave…facing a wall. On this wall the people watch the world through shadows projected as a fire burns behind them. One of the community manages to free himself, and he goes outside the cave and realises that indeed there is a true world out there. He goes back inside to free everyone else, and to tell them that what they know so far, is only just a reflection…their reality is what they are imagining it through the shadows. However he is met with contempt… the people do not want to be free; they do not want to see the truth, they want to keep living as they are, tied up inside a cave because it’s what they know, the safety of ‘non-change‘.

Just like in Paolo Coelho’s latest post, people imagine reality as they want it to be and they’re happy to let it be. Woe betide us – to all those people who want to wage war against boredom and who want to make a change!