I have been studying the use of digital technology by youth for over 10 years. One thing has become very evident to me, these digital learners, now entering young adulthood, have drastically different learning needs then analog kids.
For one, they are learning to find out about what they want, in terms of information and content, when they need it. Their learning is out of the classroom for many things such as dancing, media making, making etc.
Secondly, their social world is embedded in mobile technologies. They exist in hybrid spaces where the distinction between space social/ institutional /personal is slowly being eroded. They learn and live in real time….. All the time. Their notion of time and spaces are different and a lot more based on virtual not physical continuum. Their literacy is so different from older generations. How do we bridge the different cultures and how to we insure they remain physically healthy, when hybrid spaces tend to erase the body and remap the senses?
Thirdly, their future success will be defined less in terms of a competitive edge and educational degrees but much more in terms of diy survival, empathic and collaborative abilities defined by varying sustainable, local, cultural and need appropriate solutions to problems, that we as adults can barely imagine, let alone prepare them for. If our teaching methods and our approaches to what learning don’t change. Our global crisis will not go away and my dream is that the solutions out of self-destruction will be in new cultural, economy and social framework that nurture life in all its forms instead of abusing power.
As a European who grew up in an Atheist home but in a catholic country, the only models to education and life I have been exposed and conditioned to are lacking traditional ( as in indigenous wisdom) understanding. Europe has no natural world left, it is all man remade, so are all the belief systems. As a educator, I am developing the experience and knowledge necessary to help youth become part of a earth/life centric value system and to facilitate the emergent diy curriculum they need to thrive.
Fourth, If we are to help our chi,ldren rethink the world we must help them develop using alternative values to the ones driving our western worlds. All capitalism and the current system has done is enslave people to the ideology of work. Many people define themselves by what they do, not who they are. Many have been educated this way and would not be able to say who they are. We need to move away from a system that suppress our various identities, that makes us ignore our own needs and in the end makes us sick severe mental or physical ailments toward a system that promote nourishing ourselves in all aspects of life: biological, cultural, economic, emotional, experiential, intellectual, sensorial, spiritual and social. Without a holistic approach to learning, we can not build truly sustainable systems. The idea that we own the world needs to be replace with the idea that we must steward it.
By deschooling the kids, I chose to try to build our own reality and re-integrate all aspects of our life. Ivan illich predicted a time when society would be deschooled. I believe we are in the early adoption phase of a socio-economy DIY culture which is rapidly growing across middle class world wide and that will lead to a deschooled digital society…
So, I am experimenting with deschooled node of learning where learning is based on authentic need.
Fifthly, I am a highly sensitive person. I discovered this through living with our two boys who, of course, are also highly sensitives. As a family we have had to relearn how to live in order to keep my children sane. Over the last 16 years I feel that I have learned to rebuild our lives with new foods, new ways of communicating, new ways of listening to each other and new ways of understanding life and what is important when one is highly sensitive. Slowly, I am learned to respect and be responsive to my specific sensitivities and my senses.
In the process, I am starting to understand that sensitives can help move our civilization into a sustainable future based on empathic living and into becoming part of the whole earth’s ecosystem.
Over the years, I have de-learned many things I have been taught. From emotional, empathy, social, chemical, sensorial, physical, intellectual ways of being and notion of healthy family life. We know the future of our children depends on their ability to become healthy and engaged participants in the world. The first step for all of us is to learn how to deeply listen and to act from that place of deep understanding and empathy. We are coming here to learn to listen differently. To ourselves, each other and another culture. To change the dynamics of teacher/students by putting me and kids on the same knowledge level, language and skill wise, to force a new collaborative dynamic and to build a culture based on trust, respect and understanding of each others and the rest of the community.
Finally, all these changes have led me to understand that the senses are essential to re-wilding ourselves. Our digital generations are loosing the ability to sense and we need to relearn along them how to. After all, to make sense of, implies sensing the world. This invisible yet incredible communication tool has been undervalued for too long.
Time will tell if we can figure out a way to make this sustainable and to learn to truly listen to the emergent needs of kids, our future builders. As a parent and a teacher, I need to do this to insure I can still communicate to the upcoming generations….and reintegrate these experiences back into virtual institutions of learning and potential educational media.
Yes, the future is now but unevenly distributed…