I reckon that as more and more educators get on board with blogging and webcasting and start connecting with others, the more the Pyramid Of Influence could possibly start to flatten. Call me naïve but up until a few years ago, I felt that the further up the command chain in our education system the greater view of the big picture and the greater grasp of important future directions. So that meant most teachers trusted that new directions in literacy, curriculum, ICT etc. were being envisioned and implemented by greater minds than their own. I know when I started in my current role, I kept my mouth shut at local coordinator cluster meetings. What would I have to say when there were (seemingly) more experienced heads in the room? Express my thoughts and someone would definitely shoot me down. So quiet I was.
But the more I mix with educators based in district offices or from Flinders Street headquarters, the more I realise that they have no greater grasp on the future direction of education than me. I have, in fact, been surprised by what isn't known and how in the area of educational technology, what is touted as being important and crucial seems to be misguided or of dubious value to me.
Back in the not so distant past, if I had a problem with, say, this concept of Learning Objects,(see halfway through this post) I would have kept my doubts in my mind. I wouldn't want to look stupid by questioning my department's or even my national government's commitment to what they see as vital to keeping our students in the educational loop. I mean, if the Australian and New Zealand governments have funded a major initiative like the Learning Federation (Digital Learning Objects repository) to the tune of $100 million then I would be the one who is wrong. (Source: CEGSA RAMpage magazine Volume 1, Issue 3, September 2005, page 20).
But through the blogosphere I find support for my alternative point of view. I find information that explains to me what a federated repository is. I find posts via Alan Levine that query the whole definition of a Learning Object and then the next post leads onto another post from Artichoke, closer to home who is also uncomfortable with the funding obsession with these DLOs. I find myself nodding my head in agreement so much that in a fit of self opinionation, I leave a comment on Artichoke's blog. I see Leigh's already beaten me to it but that's hardly a surprise. But I write anyway...
My copy of CEGSA RAMpage magazine tells me that both the Aussie and Kiwi governments have committed more than $100 million to the Learning Federation project for 8000 Learning Objects. Using my LO calculator that works out to twelve and a half grand per object. That's for an object that might (emphasis added) get used once a year in a lesson to show a one off concept if at all, while our schools cry out for more funds to keep their ICT basics up to date. And who's designing and creating these objects - I've yet to meet an actual teacher who has contributed to this expensive experiment. A lot of eggs in that particular basket - keep the cynicism going, a lot of educators don't know what a Learning Object is supposed to be but unfortunately are super impressed and feel that the bleeding edge must be close by.
So already edubloggers are breaking open topics that were once the reserve of their line managers and their line managers' line managers. And maybe it's getting to the stage where we might be able to wield some influence, where a tech-savvy policy maker will actually "take the pulse" of the edublogosphere to gain some direction because issues are debated in full out here, educators are building collective knowledge and passing it onto their non-blogging colleagues and eventually, the Pyramid of Influence will start to flatten. So read, learn, debate, remix, propose, add to and let's take back control of our profession. Do those higher up the totem pole really know what's better for students and their future than you?
Great post Graham, I think it is likely that many of us became teachers and educators because we experienced success in the traditional school system – where “keeping my mouth shut” is both a predictor for success and an indicator of success.
A place where as Harpaz writes “Learning is in the pattern of imitation based upon repetition and exercises, accompanied by praise of the excellent and censure of the weak.”
Where you spend years learning that “your opinions and motivations are of no importance, that to know is to remember, to think is dangerous, since thinking can disrupt the precise replication of the teacher’s words; authorities must be obeyed, because they know; knowledge is objective, cumulative and unequivocal; problems are well defined; every problem has a clearcut solution; one’s worth is dependant on other’s opinions of him/her; learning involves futile sufferind etc ” http://www.learningtolearn.sa.edu.au/colleagues/files/links/conflicting_logics_in_Educ.rtf
As successful products of a system that relies upon the Pyramid of Influence – what is remarkable is that given this patterning that there are edubloggers who are driven to flattening behaviours. Perhaps the need to edu_blog should be monitored as an early indicator of edu_institutional unrest – as an indicator of individuals who need to be reprogrammed.