Skip to content

February 23, 2010

2

Minds Meeting Media – Students in Charge

by Peter Skillen

Fifteen years ago, I was asked by secondary school teacher, Richard Ford, to support his students in their creation of a conference for students. The students asked me to deliver a short ‘keynote’ to the student delegates.

I am, once again, surprised at the currency of the message – even 15 years later.

—————————————————————————————————

Minds Meeting Media, Keynote Address, Peter Skillen, April 25, 1995

What is the difference between information and knowledge?

Information is a collection of facts or data that is ‘out there’ – in the world.

Knowledge is different.  It isn’t out there. It’s in here.  Knowledge is something that you construct.  You build knowledge by making sense of the information that is out there.

Who is responsible for building that knowledge?

“Who is responsible for building that knowledge?”

Who is in charge of your learning?  Point at that person?  That’s right – you are!

One often thinks of schools or other institutions as having control over what and when you learn.  No – that is not their function. They are there for you to use.  They are there to support you, to nurture you, to serve you,  but you have to take control into your own hands.  You are in charge of your own learning.

Use your institutions – your schools, your teachers – to get what you want, what you need, what you deserve.

“Use your institutions – your schools, your teachers – to get what you want, what you need, what you deserve.”

There are many sources of information in your world – Internet resources, multimedia resources, TV, school, courses, other people, and so on.

But, you need to set your own learning goals and use every available resource to achieve those goals. Education is not something that happens to you – it’s not something that you get given to you in school.  An educated person is someone who is proactive and aggressive about learning.

I have said that you have a responsibility for your own learning.  In fact, you are not only responsible for your learning, but also for the learning of those in your community – your classroom or school.  You are part of a community of ‘knowledge builders’ – learners.  By working together to advance everybody’s knowledge – everybody wins.

“You are part of a community of ‘knowledge builders’ – learners.”

I congratulate those students who have taken the initiative to create this event.

I congratulate those teachers who have the wisdom and sense to support such initiative.

And I applaud those of you who are here to share your knowledge and work with your peers.

And I thank the Science Centre staff for having the courage to host this Minds Meeting Media conference.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Feb 24 2010

    Hi Peter,
    This resonates with me for sure. You are still saying almost exactly this same message today. Of course, you are ahead of your time in most things…so I’m sure that you were WAY ahead of your time 15 years ago and here is the proof! LOL

    You say,
    “But, you need to set your own learning goals and use every available resource to achieve those goals. Education is not something that happens to you – it’s not something that you get given to you in school. An educated person is someone who is proactive and aggressive about learning.”

    It strikes me that this is the ‘engagement’ dilemma that we hear so much about today. As @garystager mentioned at Educon, engagement isn’t something we ‘do’ to kids, any more than we can make them ‘get aggressive about learning’ as you have always hoped they would do. That feeling of empowerment is something we can only nurture once we’ve really given students the power to set goals, make choices and become responsible for their own learning. Authentically, not in a contrived way, and truly believing and trusting that they are effective learners.

    We’ve got a ways to go!
    21st skills???…if only we could master the ones that have been recommended since the Dewey Days! LOL

    Maybe technology will finally help us get there? Once students can get out of the bricks and mortar school and find their credentials elsewhere (in effective elearning or apprenticeship models)…will the proactive, hungry learners leave? What kinds of students will be left behind in our schools?
    Hmmm….food for thought.

    Reply
    • pskillen
      Feb 24 2010

      LOL Thanks Brenda. I can’t necessarily agree about being so far ahead, when we consider how old these theories and thoughts about empowerment are. However, someone once said, ‘so far ahead of the troops, you are considered the enemy’. Not a great place to be at times. 🙂

      I would like to think that technologies will assist us in getting us out of the nightmarish educational situation in which we find ourselves. Honestly, I’ve had that particular dream for 30 years now, since I started with computers and grade ones in 1978 and saw their shoulders square and their heads rise in delight at their control over their learning – what has been called the ‘tutee’ mode (tool, tutor, tutee) – where kids are teaching the computers.

      Regrettably, not much has really changed across our institutions. Oh yes, there are we enthusiasts and ‘radicals’ – we are even touted as ‘leaders’. But what are we leading? And where are we going? And who is following?

      Credentialism is still rampant in our society. This is a topic for another huge post. We should discuss this more sometime. Suffice it to say here, that it will not be soon that credentials are granted in informal ways – outside of formal institutions. That is a ‘radical’ thought. But, remember ‘radical’ means ‘root’ – so being radical is getting back to the roots – getting back to the culture of apprenticeship, community, connectivism and collectivism.

      I am still positive about these common beliefs we share – but I am not so naive as to think that the world of education will change rapidly. Those who wish to learn will learn in spite of schools. Credentials are another issue.

      I appreciate deeply those people in my life whom I have found who challenge me to think critically, to learn enthusiastically, to dream positively, to work hard and who make me laugh uncontrollably.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Note: HTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to comments