In a beautiful animation adapted from an inspirational talk given by Sir Ken Robinson, a well-known education and creativity expert, he argues why our current educational model is outdated and needs a paradigm-shift. I will show how hackers can show us the way and why technology can help fuel this shift. Watch the animation first (in HD and full screen, preferably):
Besides being an ICTO employee, I am also a sociology student. For my master’s thesis I have embedded myself in several hacker communities in The Netherlands and the USA the past seven months. When I say hacker, I do not mean a computer criminal, like most people know the term, but I refer to the original meaning: a highly creative geek that always looks for out-of-the-ordinary solutions. During my research I have noticed some interesting aspects of hacker culture that support Robinson’s arguments. I have met dozens of hackers who told me they did not ‘function well’ in class rooms, because they were either bored or couldn’t keep up with some subjects. But as hackers they have proven to be excellent programmers, hardware builders or computer security experts. Where did they get the knowledge?
Where most hackers previously met online, a fairly recent phenomenon is that they gather at hackerspaces. These are actual spaces dedicated to sharing knowledge, making things, tearing other things apart, to tinker, play and of course, to socialize. Hackerspaces are fairly non-hierarchical, age-groups are mixed and the focus on technology is blended with art, craftsmanship, biology, science and politics. This setup challenges the division made in “educational model that is built on the interests of industrialization” that Robinson denounces. Within hackerspaces people can form groups, big or small, or work individually. Hackers in a hackerspace are thus less confined by the ‘production line mentality’.
Hackers love sharing knowledge, remixing cultural products and contesting copyrights. They acknowledge that knowledge is always built on existing knowledge. The decentralized architecture of the internet and online technologies make the blending and sharing mentality of the hackers possible. It should be no surprise than, that hackers are not only early adopters of the web, but that they are associated with the development of it. Today two billion people can access the web and are able to access almost unlimited resources of information. They can share their knowledge and collaborate on projects online. Children who grew up using these technologies are used to learning in a different way than just a lecturer and book. Universities, with old educational models are slow with adapting to this new situation. But a paradigm shift can start from within an organization. Are you ready?