When computers first started making their appearance, educators saw their potential for becoming an important part of the learning process. The idea was that computers would be able to teach children through well-structured courses that would serve up content in ways that human teachers could not. But Seymour Papert (a maths PhD from Wits University, who had studied under Piaget) saw things the other way around. He saw the vast educational potential of giving children the tools and skills so that they could teach the computer.
Learning is all about making sense of the world. As educators, we aim to create experiences which challenge and grow our students’ understandings. An important part of learning is that it is social. We make sense of the world by testing our understanding against others’, whether they are our peers or those who have more knowledge than us.
Because learning is social, as teachers we need to arrange learning experiences that build on this fundamental idea. Before even getting to group work and collaborative learning, it is important to establish the classroom as a space where social learning can happen.
In the rush of busy school life we don’t usually take the time to think about fundamental beliefs. But such beliefs are important because they determine so much of what we do, as teachers, parents, people. So the way you answer the question “What does it mean to be human?” is important.
Disrupting Class (Christensen, Horn, & Johnson, 2011) is an unusual perspective on innovation in education, with much of the thinking coming from outside education. The authors consider what innovations education needs, and how this can be achieved by learning from major shifts in the business world, i.e. through disruptive innovations. This can provide some useful insight into how to make education more creative.