Day 160 (of 184) The school at the end of the universe

Day 160 (of 184) The school at the end of the universe

This weekend I did some rereading of one of my favourite books, which led me to reviewing some old notes I had which in turn had me thinking about what happens in schools…

From Douglas Adams “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”: The history of every major Galactic Civilization tends to pass through three distinct and recognize able phases, those of Survival, Inquiry and Sophistication, otherwise known as the How, Why and Where phases. For instance, the first phase is characterized by the question “How can we eat?” The second by the question “Why do we eat?” And the third by the question “Where shall we have lunch?”

Not ironically at all (perhaps slightly improbable) Adams named his second book “The Restaurant at the End of the Universe” where every night diners can eat and watch the universe come to an end….setting up a wide variety of scenarios (and dilemmas) not the least of which is The Answer to life, the universe and everything….

(I’ll try to put some of the ongoing analogies into perspective)

Ruby Payne mentions that there are 3 stages (food/civilization) is in one of her many talks that forces a rethink around socioeconomic bias/understanding. In brief, she uses the analogy of food and eating & how each (very broad) socioeconomic group has a distinct mindset and how it takes time (even generations) to move from one mindset to another, and how movement between groups is possible due to a number of scenarios:

Did you eat enough? (Low socioeconomic – quantity is of importance)
Did you like what you are? (Middle class ‘values’ – quality rises in eminence)
What do you think about what you ate? (High socioeconomic – neither quality nor quantity an issue; the QUESTION changes)

So here is my interpretation after reviewing the influence that Adams & Payne continue to have on me:

Regarding learning:
Did you do all the tasks? (quantity that often leads to averages over time)
Do you like learning about …? (quality in which a standard may be used and valued)
What do you want to learn? (Here everything changes and ownership of education shifts to the learner)

My takeaway (and I acknowledge that Adams & Payne each have their critiques out there) is that in ‘phases of growth’ the question changes from ‘yes/no’ responses to ‘deep questions’ the ones in which ownership is key and there are no right nor wrong responses. Kind of like where education moves from:

Task completion (worksheets)
A connection (do a report on any animal that lives in our region)
Ownership & Engagement (#geniushour, Self Organized Learning Environments et al) and where understanding of “why we need to learn about _______” is answered with something other than ‘because I (or the curriculum) say so”

And my even bigger takeaway is that my teaching today should be different than what it once was as I continue to go through phases (and avoid regression & stuck-ness as best I can) of being an educator nearing the age of…..
(Prize book if you email/tweet the connection of this post to my next birthday)


About technolandy

Educator in BCs Sunny Shuswap Pushing 'technologization' in education: blending technology and curriculum seamlessly. Advocate for better understanding of Anxiety in Education (and use of self-regulation) Utilizing ePortfolios & Descriptive Feedback
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