“Where Are Your Keys?” Means A New Role For Educational Institutions

[Update: I’ve started a new community learning non-profit called Language Hunters – please check it out at http://languagehunters.org.]

What happens when you place the ability and responsibility for learning and teaching into the hands of the people with the passion to learn?

What happens when you blur the line between teacher and student, until it no longer exists?

What happens when “Those Who Can, Do, and Those Who Can’t, Teach” becomes “Those Who Can Do, Teach, and Those Who Can Teach, Do“?

What on earth does this mean for schools, colleges, universities, the institutional life of education?

If you know me at all, you’ll know I bear little love for the institution of schooling, and the lust for “schoolifying” everything. Formerly, if you wanted to learn something, you found somebody doing it and you apprenticed with them. Now if you want to learn something, you hit your web browser and google up a school.

What happened to us, as a culture? Well, you can read John Taylor Gatto’s the Underground History of American Education for the full story, but in short, we fell asleep, and woke up in school, and stopped questioning where and why it came from.

Once you take authority away from the institution, and put it back in the hands of the doers, where does that leave institutions?

I believe a role does remain for these institutions. For a long time, as the various permutations of fluency games improve and cohere, they’ll need the guiding hand of those with the skills, and with some understanding of the pedagogical challenge at hand. It will take a while to fully transition from a culture of expert pedagogues to a culture of self-teaching play. Because Evan and I have first aimed at language education, I think we will see some rapid culture change there once we get the ball rolling. Everything else will come in its own time.

Perhaps eventually the schools, colleges, and academies will transform into cultural and community centers, places with the space and tools to facilitate experimental and exploratory play in the fluency of different skills. Hotbeds of light-hearted conversation and commensality, perhaps they will have a role for quite some time to come.

In any case, let’s begin. Whatever happens, we know where we started. Right here.

Written by Willem