Critical Approaches to Culture + Communications

A Weblog by Ron Burnett (Founded in 1994 and now celebrating 23 Years!!)

This site began as one of the first academic sites in Canada when the World Wide Web was in its early phase of development. I have maintained it through many iterations since 1994.

Dangerous Ideas

For those of you that may not know about the Web Site run by John Brockman, connect here to THE EDGE, which, as its title suggests is about "edgy" thinking. At the beginning of each year, Brockman invites readers to contribute to a debate through a question that he poses. This year's question goes as follows:

"The history of science is replete with discoveries that were considered socially, morally, or emotionally dangerous in their time; the Copernican and Darwinian revolutions are the most obvious. What is your dangerous idea? An idea you think about (not necessarily one you originated) that is dangerous not because it is assumed to be false, but because it might be true?"

In the spirit of Brockman's approach, I would like to pose the following question:

What dangerous idea do you have that would alter our conceptions and pre-conceptions about learning?

Keep in mind that the idea need not "realizable" but should be provocative.

Here is mine:

Lets get rid of classrooms as the main site for learning at the K-12 and Post-Secondary level. Once we do that, or before, lets redesign the architecture of schools and universities to reflect and encourage more common areas through which learners and teachers can "meet" and learn from each other. The classroom model, both physically and as a learning environment needs to be rethought. The teacher as the main source of knowledge, as the centre of attention needs profound rethinking. Another way of debating this point would be to ask, What would happen if the student were to speak from the position of the teacher? Would the student organise the material in the same way? Would she set the same goals? Would she need to make a moral judgement about what should or shouldn’t be known or understood?

And while we are at it, lets recognize the importance of auto-didactism to the process of learning. We are all auto-didacts and bring a vast heritage of learning to the schools that we attend.

Over to you! Please feel free to email me directly. Alternately, place your dangerous idea into the comments section and I will move it from there to the main page. And send me the email addresses of people who may wish to read this Blog.