Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Classrooms will prevail, deschooling for another age

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...That's what sux about working for an organisation. Your colleagues don't take the time to look you up out find out more about who you are, what you've done, and as a result can all too easily dis what you say. To them, your just some face you has just introduced themselves in one of those almost pointless round table introductions before the meeting, and that's it. When I said things like "social networking software" you could literally see minds shutting down around you. when I talked about using available services on the Internet, and not rebuilding the Internet the way we want it - people fold their arms, sit back, and ask who is this punk?

Having an online community and a voice within it always lures me into a false sense of security. I look at it as My preferred classroom. But its one in which I have chosen my classmates (more or less). When online, that security isn't false at all. We swap links, encourage each others work, nurture each others ideas. But in the day job, in an organisation that thinks face to face meetings are productive, where everyone has been schooled and socialised, there is no online - only you, what you look like, and what you sound like. And I've come to realise that what I look and sound like can really work against me in these situations.

Given the floor, I can do alright. I have some time to dispel the prejudgements on my age, gender, clothing choice, race. I have some time to establish what I'm on about, I have some time to make a point. In a meeting, where respect is back to zero, and where it is common to cut people off and interrupt them, where organisational politics plays a part - the luxury of having the floor, backed up with hyperlinks and like minded comments just isn't there.

This is in my mind, where the school and the classroom - where you can't choose your learning community, where bullying is an element as common as the weather, were politics prevails, and where power is the currency - is totally at odds with networked learning.

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Doug Johnson said...


The biblical expression for this is "a prophet is without honor in his own land." Or as we say in Minnesota, an expert has to be someone from at least 75 miles away.

Do what you do for yourself, your kids, and your blog readers.

All the very best,


Anonymous said...

IT people love to dig their noses into content when they should be handling delivery. Stay strong!

Ken - Sydney

margot said...

Hi Leigh,
Sorry to hear your sad tale. I thought those Kiwis might have been more open minded but perhaps the IT control gene is universal.

I had a similar experience in a recent move from VET to higher ed. All I can suggest is to just try to take it slowly; influence a few, a little at a time. Euon Semple might have some interesting insights into the slow pace of organisation change:

Don't let the turkeys get you down,

bev trayner said...

Leigh ... there isn't even a comma or a full stop in your post that I don't identify with!

Inner Mind Fish said...


I worked as you know in an environment where the common joke was that at least a rottweiler gave back the child when a social worker wouldnt. I also spent half a decade snavvling money to buy aerosol spray cans and SMS credit to "lure" kids into networked learning and ultimately numeracy and literacy.

The last decade has been spent hopping into and out of organisations, boardroom meetings , telco champagne parties and isolated communities speaking of one thing......we are all part of one connected digital organic and slippery machine that threatens to devolve LMS, to unravel social coding in a global context and that will dissolve all firewalls and virtual iron curtains as a matter of course.

I moved to Sydney from the other side of Australia and I've had many a fuckhead stick their nose into my conversation with a smarmy sly slinty glint espousing the virtues of systems that lock conversation down, shunt knowledge upwards and drive innovation into FYI and CC's.

The biggest learning curve for me is to realise that I've needed to step back and learn that I'm in new territory. I dont have the way for all to piss around the patch and make my mark otherwise so I'm carefully putting my ear to the ground and listening to where the loudest rumblings are coming from.

Today I discivered that the very person I've thought is my arch enenmy in the web 2.0 conversation is one of my greatest allies. How so ? I heard that over this side of the country people think nothing of freezing out competition, organising for assets to go missing and accounts to go on hold, rumours to be spread, keystrokes to be disseminated etc.

With such a threat web 2.o evokes fear and the silent white shispers and the cone of silence still prevails.

We live in rules and rules are meant to be broken. Take heart. Pick out those that support you and work with them. No matter where you go in this big wide world 10 percent will agin ya and the others will dis ya'.

Your a leader. Live up to that and take us into the new pedagogical and androgogical paradigm.


Alex Hayes

Leigh Blackall said...

Many thanks for the words of support once again guys. I do take heart from that. I do have some very good allies already, and working with them will bring about some changes. It always disapoints me though, whenever I discover that key people are blockages. It just makes it so much harder. Thanks though, and keep up the good work yourselves. Lets keep each other very informed on our work, progress and blockages, if only to offer moral support.

Wara said...

And getting some positive outcomes in the end is so much the sweeter.

When you choose to be out the front you also choose to be the brick wall that many people seem to need to bump up against to change direction.

Perhaps dressing, walking and talking like the 'them' might help. It provides some cues to fitting in so that they think that you are one of them and can trust you. For some people this is important - a bit like groups that shape the head of their young so that they can be clearly identified as one of them. Hold fast to values none the less. The end result maybe worth the compromise on cosmetics.

Graham Wegner said...

Leigh, I think any educator who's built up respect and credibility in one siuation finds that counts for nought when you are the new kid in town. Granted, I haven't had to move countries to experience it but when I first arrived at my current school in my first dip in a semi-leadership role, I brought with me eight solid years of experience in middle schooling, being proactive in ICT usage and Resource Based Learning and building up a new Student Voice structure to find my new colleagues didn't really want to know. "We've got things figured out around here already, thank you very much. This was cutting edge in 1996 when we set this up and things haven't changed that much. Who are you again?"
There are days when I feel that some people still aren't listening three years later. That's why linking into the edublogosphere and meeting great bloggers like yourself (even virtually) has given me the courage to challenge the status quo, make up my own mind on things and be prepared to be different from the herd. Quite a few staff here joke about my blogging and see it as lightweight but every now and then when you least expect it, someone will turn to you and say, "That is really powerful stuff. What you wrote about _________ really got me thinking...."
PS. Must be hard to resist baiting some of the negative goons. My tongue someimes gets sore from biting it!

nswtox said...

excellent argument,but,(for there is a big "but") the cool,detached,away brom the bullying social networking can lack
the immediacy,the warmth of the power struggle that makes life so exciting

nswtox said...

this new century looks like hard work to me.