Why kids are being e-smashed today.

There is a lack of cohesion, comprehension, consistency and communication in public schools. There is widespread criticism of the Australian Federal and State Governments conflicting, confusing and convoluted messages towards the pandemic from numerous vectors. Education stands alone right now …  in that teachers are responding with their e-learning campaigns .. due to lack of direction. Let’s not be coy; there has been competition between school principles about how ‘totes’ awesome their school is at pivoting to e-learning in a matter of days. At the same time, school leaders (macro-suits) are posting ‘feel-good’ Tweets about how professional teachers are – to their imagined audience of colleagues and observers. Various authorities are giving formal statements and each appears to have a mysterious set of advisers whom hold such wisdom about all of education and health that it would simply not do to even ask their names, let alone ask what proof or what implementable solutions and resources they bring.

The has been a tsunami of ‘new resources’ being pumped out by experts, who seem isolated in some kind of war-cabinet, as they try and churn out materials to guide teacher online. It has been a didactic explosion of ‘how to do e-Learning’ – and again, no consistency between systems – and plenty of jostling for authority. In the middle, there is the ABC tying to help everyone. Politicians (bless them) are saying that the ABC could return to being the speaker-on the wall for education, but with laptops and take up the slack (what slack, who’s slack, why?).

Home school and Distance Learning are not the same thing. The interchangeable use of this leads to more confusion. Home School is largely associated with un-schooling.

The freedom for anyone, young or old, to choose why, what, when, how, and from whom to learn things is a key element in John Holt’s work. In short, if you don’t have the freedom to choose what to think about then you are in mental slavery; of course, we can choose to subordinate ourselves to a teacher (the master–pupil relationship) in order to accomplish or learn something, but that relationship only works well if the student wants to learn that subject or work with that teacher. – (John Holt’s view of un-schooling and ‘home schooling’.

Distance Education (ala public educations) is a formal, modernist arrangement wherein, classes are organised around time, content and grades. It doesn’t have to be online. E-Learning is another un-resolved term, as it can be at a distance of a thousand miles or two meters – synchronous or a-synchronous. Distance Education has been based on print for as long as it has existed in Australia.  To Holt, World of Warcraft would probably be okay, but School-arranged-Minecraft isn’t. Kid generated Minecraft okay if the kid thinks its useful and the view of the parent, not important. Right now, the media (and politicians) have made a dogs breakfast of this language – and so it’s impossible for anyone (especially those who have yet to engage with ‘digital’ – I know right? – to have a common langauge to even begin to decode what is said and then interpreted and translated from one place to the next. This means school variations, in-school variations and home variations ranging from insane over kill to dis-engagements.

Even, even, if you have a clear plan for online. Even if you have the skills and experience of forming and maintaining online communities of practice, in the vague notion of ‘E-learning’ – then you will still meet ROADBLOCKS.

I absolutely guarantee – even if you SHOW it working, someone will kill it. Either there will be a policy issue, or a support issue or just someones opinion – because Karen on Facebook said … the chances of getting your classes up in a way that meets your students and both their point of need and interest – remains low.

This is the history of innovation, the story of E-Learning. Even in a pandemic screaming out for innovation – someone is going to mis-understand the terms, lack the insight into digital, distance and shifting-cultures: resulting in a ‘stop’ notice. I’m expecting that to roll around very soon … as I’m not interested in pushing crap onto Google Classroom to look busy. I want to connect and engage with students and help them get where they want to go, inside the walls of the syllabus. I’m sure my ideas are about as clear as mud.

Probably why I gave up and Eddie Woo is a genius.

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