Steve Jobs, S.J. and Jagjit Singh J.S. SJ and JS. Full Circle. Closed Loop. Rest in peace.
While SJ epitomised creativity and innovation in technology, JS did the same with Music. While SJ brought personal computing on its own, JS brought life to the dying art of the ghazal. Two people who were never formal teachers. Nonetheless, what we learnt from them is priceless and will continue to inspire us and future generations to come. And they were connected too. The ghazals that JS sang adorn many an iPhone or iPAD.
Since I am irreversibly Connectivist, I can’t help thinking that they were informal educators, teachers who taught without teaching, motivated with their words and actions, who could not be formal educators because perhaps the world was too big to fit in their class, and from who generations will continue to learn.
And there are many like them. Some resting in peace, some visibly our guides and some hidden somewhere off our networks. The skill we must imbibe is how to connect with them, learn from them, despite them not teaching us in an explicit classroom. The world then becomes our classroom, substituting formal teaching with guided collaboration and self-service. That learning is different from time bound, formally assessed mechanisms in ways that are fundamentally incomparable. It is chaotic, non-deterministic and complex and led by our own desires and skills.
The puzzle is in figuring if this is a new kind of education system. Not system, in the traditional closed loop sense, but a complex, distributed one with many cores – many distributed and disaggregated centres of learning and assessment. The puzzle is in the emergence not the making, because it can’t really be “made”. The puzzle is whether it will result in superior outcomes – better citizens, more informed decision makers, more democratic nations and more competent professionals.
It is a puzzle I love and hate to think and talk about. Hate because it involves letting go of structure, intermediation and control. Love because it is free and open, and perhaps has the best chance of helping our children emerge from the abyss of learning they are in today. It needs more people to experiment, play in local contexts, stay globally connected to an ever-expanding network of practice. It is a movement rather than a policy decision, a personal decision to play ball, rather than an imposed directive, an urge to change rather than a push to reform.
SJ and JS. Full circle. Rest in peace.