Sunday, May 08, 2005


George Siemens has started a blog entitled Connectivism.

Borrowing from Sun Microsystems, George writes "The Network is the Learning." Individuals can't do things unless they're connected. Value resides in the connections. Connections create context. Hence, my formulation that "Learning is making good connections."

Connectivism takes the locus of learning out of an individual's head, because the complexity and gushers of knowledge required to understand the world have become too large to fit inside any single brain. It's like Johnny Mnemonic, whose head is about to explode because his memory is stretched beyond the limits of capacity. There's too much to keep up with when you try to do it all on your own.

Unlearning is a bitch because it takes rewiring internal connections, and resistance to change is a sanity defense mechanism. In my personal (un)learning, the notion of complexity made it easier for me to shift my beliefs and connections. Logic is a figment of the imagination, my brain's way of presenting me with an orderly world. Formal logic no longer maps to reality.

First we make our habits, then our habits make us. Paradigm drag, the reluctance to leave one's comfort zone, makes it easier to follow the paths that have been traveled before than to explore new territory. Learners must continually look around to assess whether old rules are out of sync with new realities.

May 12
Science tells us our genes aren't that different from those of squirrels or giraffes or dolphins, but we humans are obviously at the top of the food chain. Why do you think that is? We're not the biggest or the fastest or the strongest or the most hearty. We don't enjoy first-mover advantage. Yet, for better or worse, we dominate the planet.

The one thing that separates humans from other species is our ability to transmit culture. We've evolved the means to transfer the lessons of one generation to the next. Not just that, our discoveries, our know-how, our technology... these things are always advancing.

How on earth did we ever think we could analyze human activity, learning for example, without considering our continuous interaction with culture? Three hundred years ago, Rene Descartes proposed that we solve problems by dividing them into the component parts and figuring out one part at a time. Swell. The world simply doesn't work that way. No one is completely empty-headed, a blank slate. Unless you're raised by wolves, you are inextricably linked to a human consciousness that's been built up over the past ten thousand or more years. Culture and human beings are linked together as tightly as inside and outside; you can't have one without the other.

Hence, the standard definitions of learning describe a dream world that simply does not exist.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?