All over the world, in ancient times, the seeker/learner went to seek learning from the knowers.
At some point in history, the State took over education as a matter of public policy, and since then bureaucracies and politicians have been articulating policies and passing laws on matters related to education, but the critical element of ‘learning’ is often overlooked.
We are in the second half of the second decade of the 21st century, and the criticality of ‘learning’ , and especially higher order thinking skills and creativity is a sine qua non for flourishing and thriving in the emerging knowledge, innovation and sharing economy.
The Nobel Laureate in Economics (2009) Elinor Ostrom, established that resources held by a community can be better managed by the community itself,contrary to the well accepted ‘ tragedy of the commons’ proposed by Garrett Hardin.
And learning and knowledge reside in the community of teachers and learners. They must reclaim learning and devise methods and models for its universal accessibility.
The first step towards this is to give recognition to independent educators, like lawyers, doctors and other professionals.
When Archimedes grasped the principle of the lever, he remarked that ‘ give me a place to stand on, and I can move the world’.
Today’s educator can teach anyone anywhere in the world with access to the Internet from a Smartphone, tablet or other handheld device.
A set of tools comprising e-mail, instant messaging, blog, YouTube etc. provide the full suite to connect teachers and learners.
The other important element of reclaiming learning is to emulate the Montesquieu model of separation of State powers into executive, legislature and judiciary. So teaching, examinations and a qualification framework can operate as separate entities, within the education eco-system.
The fatal flaw in our present model of education and learning is that it is driven by the authority of the State. As Henry Maine had stated in Ancient Law societies progress when they move from status to contract.
Today, we believe that authority (status) is being replaced by ‘data’ and evidence. This is reflected in the ‘Big Data’ and Learning Analytics that give insights for decision making.
Reclaiming learning therefore involves the interactions between the teachers, learners and content to create an eco-system that facilitates data driven inclusive learning, in a diverse cohort of learners.
The new approach called ‘Heutagogy’ involves managing the learning of self-directed learners and relies upon nano-learning, flipped learning, social learning and mastery learning.
The reason educators must reclaim learning is that ‘education’ is perhaps in the state when ‘alchemy’ transformed to ‘Chemistry’, and it is they who are in a better position to transform ‘learning’.
If we feel overwhelmed with the challenge, I want to draw support and inspiration from a quote from Margaret Mead who said ” Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”.
I am sure that you are the group Margaret was talking of.