I’m reading Zach Stein’s book, Education in a Time Between Worlds, and it is triggering so many thoughts and ideas, that I can see it becoming something of a manifesto for future-thinking education practice in the emerging decentralised world. I’m about half-way through, and the ideas and concepts that Zach references are well-defined and structured, so you don’t need to be an expert in educational theory or metamodern philosophy to get a sense of what he is talking about.
The examples are relatable and simple, without being polemical. Much of what Zach says concurs with my experience in media education, though it is somewhat annoying seeing it written down as succinctly as this, because I would like to be able to capture these elusive and fleeting experiences and relate them in a more enduring and transmissible form, through publications and media.
The key questions I’m mulling fall into two broad categories:
- How do we meet the urgent challenges of the Great Disruption?
- How can we test meaningful decentralised approaches to communication and learning?
Stein describes the future of learning as potentially founded on a social and networked model, which goes beyond institutions, and is integrated into social and community life. This means establishing practices and approaches to better understand and get to grips with the world that we will become: which is technologically enabled, ecologically fragile, socially diverse, cognitively heterodox, and economically unbalanced.
My intuition for setting up Decentered Media was to address some of these issues, and to find ways to defined new forms of communication practice that are founded on learning and intersubjectivity, which enable higher levels of confidence to deal with cultural fluidity and diversity, while using problem-solving and critical thinking precepts to address both practical and values-defined challenges.
There is a potential pathway through this, which is to bring together a group of practitioners and thought-leaders who are confident acting outside institutional contexts, and who can bring their experience, insight and creativity to applying solutions that are meaningful, grounded in our shared human experiences, and which challenge the constraints and strangle-hold of process management models of organisation practice and theory.
Stein puts it like this:
“Needed are world-centric ethical capacities and profoundly embodied situational awareness. Needed are collaborative and loving mindsets, able to deal with loss and tragedy, able to rebuild with resilience, able to innovate endlessly and with aclaraty. Education must promote growth into new levels of maturity. We need a new kind of grown up” (p.35)