John Seely Brown: Global one-room schoolhouse

John Seely Brown presents a fascinating stream of ideas in this compressed, animated version of a talk he gave at the 2012 DML Conference, posted by the Digital Media and Learning Hub. Brown is former director of Xerox PARC and co-author most recently of A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change. His full talk, Cultivating the Entrepreneurial Learner in the 21st Century, is also available on video.

I don’t agree with everything here — don’t agree that “most skills we pick up” will have a half-life of five years, many are enduring. (Check out, as counterpoint, the skills depicted on the “jobs of the future” illustration, which includes a mix of old and new.) Still, there is no denying that change is in the air.

Brown’s broad definition of “play” reminds me of Charles Sanders Peirce’s abductive reasoning, which we experience as “leaps of logic” or a “sense of wonder,” and is cited as the basis for design thinking.

Brown’s vision of a global one-room schoolhouse combines digitally enabled networks with an apprenticeship model of learning.

Some of the greatest learning environments were actually the one-room schoolhouse. Why were they so effective? It’s because the teacher wasn’t transferring knowledge. But the teacher was acting as a coach, a coordinator, a mentor — getting older kids to spend some time helping younger kids, so that the older kids were teaching the younger kids. And then the younger kids would turn around and also teach the even younger kids.

There was an amazing social dynamic in that classroom. And the teacher was responsible for orchestrating that amazing ability to learn and to teach simultaneously by each student in that class.

Let us ask: Is it possible that we’re getting in the position to take the one-room schoolhouse and make it global one-room schoolhouse through these networks of imagination and new forms of mentorship?

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