Thursday, July 16, 2015

I Can Feel The Pull: A Response to Lankshear & Knobel Chapter 7

"New Literacies" Lankshear & Knobel cover with 'pull' sticker


Chapter seven in New Literacies: Everyday Practices and Social Learning Third Ed by Colin Lankshear and Michele Knobel was like listening to the preacher preach to the choir. One of my mantras all semester has been ‘mastery.’ The mastery that develops in one’s skill by practices in creativity that lead to broader ability in ‘new literacies,’ or the ability to solve a variety of problems by utilizing various approaches through diverse practices in social learning. This may involve being keen to understanding multiple intelligences, and the ability to switch from one mode of learning to another. Or ‘learning to be’ through communities of practice and deep learning (Lankshear & Knobel, 2011, p. 218-219). Many of the participators on ds106, and my fellow classmates in the CU Denver Masters in Information and Learning Technologies program, myself included, are learning to do many different things for the first time. We are learning through our frustrations and comparisons to others in the broader ds106 network that we may be much less proficient in ‘the thing’ we are attempting to do than somebody else. This is mostly because we have not been exposed to it through traditional modes of education and practice. Or we previously did not have much interest in the subject. We are not taught any of the many great things we are trying to do by some regimented classroom. We are taking the initiative to ‘self teach’ and let others in the affinity groups to which we belong, help us, critique us, and praise us. We have perhaps never been so frustrated, but at the same time, never been so rewarded for our efforts by the sense of belonging to the affinity groups and broader networks to which we are ultimately trying to engage or reach. Although myself and my colleagues may not consider ourselves masters in any of these ‘new literacies’ which we study, at least we now have the appreciation to know what it takes to develop these skills and masteries through online social engagement, and ‘grit.’

“At the heart of Gee and Hayes’ discussion is what they see as the significance of ‘grit,’ understood as a disposition that combines ‘persistence plus passion’ (ibid.: 67) for experiencing success under current and foreseeable social, economic, ‘globalizing’, and epistemic conditions.”
(Lankshear & Knobel, 2011, p. 227).

A World in Peril

In further synthesis of the Lankshear and Knobel text with my focal theme, ‘the importance of creative arts in education,’ I looked at Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences Theory and Ken Robinson’s The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. In so many ways this scholarship resonated with chapter seven in the Lankshear and Knobel text. The primary statement, of all three scholarships suggest, simply put, - we are not preparing students in the current dominate educational practices for the future, rather, we are preparing them for test taking and regurgitation of learnt material by superficial means. In other words, as Lankshear and Knobel call it, the “push” model. Where educational systems are designed by governing bodies and ‘pushed’ into the schools for consumption (Lankshear & Knobel, 2011, p. 221). Or as Ken Robinson would emphasise, this as an industrial model for education when we are, in fact, living in a postmodern society. Which then brings us to the ‘pull.’ The pull from society to make education relevant to the everyday practices of our time and, in theory, our future. Who knows what problems will need to be addressed in the future? We can suggest a few, such as global warming or rapid consumption of resources, or over population. Essentially, the inability to sustain life, as we know it, on our planet. How will we solve these problems?

Another Paradigm Shift

Ken Robinson, Howard Gardner, Lankshear and Knobel, and many others would suggest the problems of the world will not be solved by the ‘push’ model. That’s why we may be at odds with the world and the traditional education system. It’s no longer relevant to our everyday lives. Thus, we are experiencing the revolution that is the transition to the ‘pull’ model.

“This ‘big shift’ entails a move from the familiar ‘push’ paradigm toward an emergent ‘pull’ paradigm as the conditions for ‘being successful’ change.”
(Lankshear & Knobel, 2011, p. 227).

As Lankshear and Knobel describe ‘pull,’ they call attention to ‘platforms.’ Platforms like Twitter, or Facebook, or Wikipedia, or ds106. Essentially, places where collaborative learning can happen, where resources can be gathered, dispersed, and discussed (Lankshear & Knobel, 2011, p. 228-229). It is through these affinity groups that we create spontaneous learning and develop a sense of belonging that ultimately motivates people to participate, create, and ‘learn to be.’

I Can Feel The Pull

As a final note in chapter seven of Lankshear & Knobel “New Literacies,” they include a hint to what will be discussed in the next chapter “social learning into Master’s-level study” (Lankshear & Knobel, 2011, p. 230). This made me think about my current experience at CU Denver ILT MA program. I can honestly say I would not be willing to participate in these courses if the pedagogy was not current and relevant. Furthermore, I am pursuing a Master’s degree in information and learning technology & education to hopefully be a part of these emerging technologies that are revolutionizing education and the world. In a short amount of time there is already a sense of fulfillment because of the practices in this course. I can’t wait to see what I will ‘learn to be’ as I continue my educational journey.

New Literacies: Everyday Practices and Social Learning Third Ed by Colin Lankshear and Michele Knobel. McGraw-Hill Education 2011.

Aronica, Lou; Robinson, Ken Ph.D. The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. 2009. Narr. Robinson, Ken Ph.D. Tantor Media. 2009. Accessed July 13, 2015. Hoopla.