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In the grips of schooling

Learning is a natural human process that goes on all the time. Yet under the double influence of scientific thinking and market logic, the idea of "schooling" has come to permeate all forms of learning and turn them into something that is inevitably organised, and that takes place in a specific location at a given time. What is to be learnt is necessarily divided up into convenient units and consequently cut off from other activities, resulting in the loss of the overall meaning of things in their context. The "schooling" paradigm also implicitly delivers the message that the individual is dependent on somebody else to learn.

In reality, it is not reading, writing or arithmetic that are taught at school, but rather three major lessons - all of which are false:

  • learning can only satisfactorily take place in a rarefied atmosphere disconnected from the real world;
  • learning can only satisfactorily take place with the help of an expert;
  • quality is always convertible into quantity (this is a central lesson of marking systems in school).

The advent of the Information Society is apparently loosening the grips of school on learning. Rapid change, increasing complexity, the need to keep up-to-date and above all cut-throat competition, have forced those people responsible for education and training to introduce the concept of "life-long learning". The tools of the Information Society make it possible for the advocates of pre-packed, commodity-type learning to deliver their tailor-made wares, anywhere, anytime. This apparent ubiquity should not however be confused with the re-integration of learning as a meaningful activity amongst many others.

Exploring the network, for example, as a virtual mirror of many aspects of society and exchanging with people met there seems to produce an integrated learning-experience akin to what learning must have been like before school got a grip on us. Yet we should not forget that knowledge on the Net is itself an organised reality with pre-defined relationships between different facets of that knowledge. Maybe the answer to this dilemma lies in finding a balanced relationship between different co-existing planes of "reality". The future member of the Information Society will simultaneously live in a local community and in distributed on-line communities. Both realities must feed each other and contribute to a global learning process.

The other texts of The re-connected individual are:

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learning + networked society + dossiers + extra
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ISSN: 1664-834X Copyright © , Alan McCluskey,
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Created: July 3rd, 1996 - Last up-dated: July 3rd, 1996