Emergency call from Pedagogistan

Cover image by Sabine Lange on Pixabay

Reservations about everything to do with „The Digital Age“ are still absurdly high in Pedagogistan. Knowledge about how things work in the new cultural space called „Digitalia“ is insufficient – if it exists at all. Digital technologies and the methods associated to them (currently Scrum, Design Thinking, now and then Lego Serious Play) are considered to be synonymous with the space itself. The use of devices such as smartphones is accepted in the school system at most on a didactic level – and controlled like the distribution of illegal drugs. The fact that young people live „digital only“ remains – if it exists at all – without the necessary cultural consequences for schools.

So those who do not have a reflected experience, and if they do, then only a borrowed one of a whole new world, still think they are preparing people for this world and for a life in it. That’s state of the art in Pedagogistan.

Why still teachers?

A more important and at the same time sad question cannot be asked at the moment.

This is cruel: As in almost all professional fields that consider the human factor indispensable and fundamental in the face of digitization, there is a lack of clarity in the education system about why and as a result of what this human factor – here and now – is shrinking to a minimum and about what then remains „human“ and why.

But this clarity is possible – and painful at the same time.

Teaching, schooling, instructing, and the logistics of information in schools and classrooms, analog or via the Internet, is already an anachronistic activity that, by the way, has nothing to do with basic human needs. Learning works quite differently. We can know that today if we want to.

And beyond that, and most importantly, everything to know is available to fish for online in a way that can’t be beaten – directly convertible into needed expertise.

It is the silo structures of the school system and its traditional insularity vis-à-vis society and the economy that currently still form a kind of protective shield against the total availability of their bargaining chips and against the erosion of their core business. It’s like industries that seal themselves off to protect their production instead of becoming connectable in globalized markets – in the sense of a metaphor. I am surely not equating the education system with economic businesses. My point with that is to illustrate the functionality of interconnected and interdependent systems.

„Well, let’s coach them!“

„Yes, but someone has to coach and support these youths. They are completely overwhelmed by this digital overload,“ I hear. „Then let’s be coaches!“

But it’s the other way around. Those whose profession is becoming extinct, the teachers, need the coaching and the guidance and the support in reorientation, because: Actual and professional coaching and advising is to this day neither a serious part of the preparation nor the practice of teaching professions – in the sense of attention and importance, not curricular mention. In the sense of a red thread, not a splash of color – and not even in the sense of a school subject, because this kind of presence of a topic in the educational context (e.g. as a subject like Maths or Physics), as is well known, does not necessarily lead to the competence connoted with it.

So are issues and programs of personality development, emotional competence, conflict management, team building and teamwork – and last but not least forms, types and ways of collaboration, which today provide the basics of working in the knowledgebased professions and creative industries. All of them do not come up seriously enough in everyday school life or in teacher training. Not to mention digital knowledge management, which is vital today in those industries and professions that remain reserved for humans for the time being in digitization.

Reproduction systems are coming to an end

Educational work is now – on the background of completely new tasks and functions – about the development of entirely new professions.

The reproduction systems are screwed, no matter how much fancy shit they stage in the classrooms now. It’s like the movie theater industry. The old representation and projection machines have had their day. They’re run down in their rhythms and routines, designed to repeat the same thing over and over again. Year after year, lesson after lesson, unit after unit, year after year. Designed for repetition, sold as learning.

It is now a matter of breaking out of Pedagogistan in order to have any chance at all of becoming connectable as educational work to the people and to the culture of the present – and no longer the other way around!

Courageous, consistent, successful: The Learnlife Community

Start to connect now. Start unschooling yourself and your kids. Every kid. Get out of the position of being talked down to. Start taking ownership of your own learning path. Make that switch from being a passive to an active learner. Unlearn – to be able to engage yourself in learning again. Become an actor instead of a spectator in your own education.

No school classes, no division into age groups, no subjects, no classrooms, no lessons, no periods, no school bell, no tests, no grades. No instructions as to what or which content they should learn by when. Instead, without exception, young learning people being supported day by day in taking ownership for their own learning and growth.

For this purpose they get all human and personal support from other people in the learning community and from those who are connected from „outside“. It is strictly about the young people discovering and developing their own strengths, interests and potential. The learning environment provides them with everything they need to do this. Including the most important social tool called collaboration, the care for themselves and others, and again: undivided interest in their growth. These are some of the differences that Learning People experience at Learnlife every day.

And this works perfectly. Not only at Learnlife in Barcelona but in many learning communities around the globe, which have radically abandoned a discarded a meaningless school system to focus on the empowerment and future of young people.

And if you want to discuss this with traditional teachers, school principals or education policy makers, you quickly realize: it’s easier to nail a pudding to the wall than to find a trace of imagination inside them, any spark of curiosity that might outshine their immediate concern. They cling to what they are used to see, to think, to do and consider normal. They cannot relate to what exists outside their self-contained frame of reference in terms of development, challenge and excellent solutions.

They insist that all truly innovative and novel models, approaches and practices of learning and education are and remain incompatible with what their system does and has to do – and then they will continue to put all their energy transferring the old, completely dysfunctional school system into digital space – e.g. during the upcoming second corona wave – eagerly dressed up by digital toys.

Joining the resistance

They will never give up the power of control that makes their job what it is – until we stop giving them our kids. Try that. Start a research. Look out for people of all age and background around the world. People who create and have created fascinating learning communities: beyond the inhuman pressure of grades and merit, beyond the reproduction of a culture and an ideology of humankind that alienates even children from themselves and their possibilities on the excuse that they have to be educated.

Start to connect now. Start unschooling yourself and your kids. Every kid. Get out of the position of being talked down to. Start taking ownership of your own learning path. Make that switch from being a passive to an active learner. Unlearn – to be able to engage yourself in learning again. Become an actor instead of a spectator in your own education.

From this moment you start automatically to make all this possible for kids – and we all together start changing this fading world.

Sam, Christopher, Maria and Devin on the challenges of the learnlife project.