Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Objective knowledge - real or imagined?

I have just been listening to the podcast of an EdTechTalk discussion between George Siemens and Stephen Downes http://edtechtalk.com/files/EdTechTalk34-2006-01-29.mp3

I find that I am glad I didn't catch the live webcast - I found it sufficiently heavy going to warrant several breaks in order to be able to stay focused. Mind you, this could be because these two individuals are way above my weight division.

I suppose it was always intended to be a philisophical discussion, but I found I got impatient with it. Listening to these two learning professional giants debating whether anything at all intrinsically "is" or we have made it all up got me down after a bit. I mean, they're knowledgeable, these guys, and their arguments were clever, but I don't care at the end of the day whether an apple really is red or we just think it is.

I did agree with Stephen's point, though, that learning isn't something that someone "does" to someone else. On the other hand, his view that people should be given the freedom to design their own learning goals is a bit far-fetched when it comes to children. Their life experience is insufficient to afford them the perspective needed for this task - just as they are not yet ready to see to all their own needs independently of their parents. Perhaps he didn't mean to include children in that statement, but he didn't give any indication to the contrary.

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