Question Time in the house.

Communism–  a political and economic theory proposing the replacement of private ownership of goods or capital with common ownership and distribution upon need. (“Communism.” -Ologies and -Isms. 1986. Encyclopedia.com. 25 Feb. 2012)
Capitalism  – In a capitalist economic system most productive assets are held by private owners, and most decisions about production and distribution are made by the market rather than government command. Capitalism thus suggests a system of economic regulation that involves minimal state involvement (The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States | 2005 | KERMIT L. HALL )
Fascism –  is a reactionary and revolutionary ideology that emerged across Europe after World War I. Fascism was partially developed in Italy and became fully developed in Germany as a reaction against the unrestrained liberal capitalism of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, which promoted individualism over communal organization. Fascism as an ideology is anti-Marxist in its militarization of culture, society, and the economy and its rejection of social reforms as a means to create community. As in communism, fascism emphasizes the primacy of the collective unit; however, fascists reject communism’s internationalism and instead define the community as a racial group whose passionate, heroic sacrifice for the nation will fulfill its historical destiny (International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences | 2008 )
Utopia – an ideal commonwealth whose inhabitants exist under seemingly perfect conditions. Hence “utopian” and “utopianism” are words used to denote visionary reform that tends to be impossibly idealistic. (Encyclopaedia Brittanica)

As politics appears to be the flavour of the month in Australia, my thoughts recently drifted to musing on the existence of edupolitical ideologies. I thought – why not? Seeing as how an increasing amount of educational talk and thought is framed is non-educational terms (business has clients and stakeholders – now so do we; education and schools get an annual checkup – just like the one’s doctors give) I wondered how well political ideologies and education would mesh. Not just (INSERT LOCAL POLITICAL PARTIES HERE), but foundation political ideologies, like the ones at the start of this post.

In order to make this a relatively painless, quick and hopefully coherent exercise, I think it’s wise to observe some boundaries – for instance, covering every political persuasion is an impossible task. And narrowing the scope of the comparison to one issue that has generated some discussion lately – namely the ownership and sharing of ideas – seems prudent. If I avoid allegorical clumsiness  and the mesh is valid, then others may see additional ways to apply the notion and may want to further the story themselves.
At the start of this post, I’ve supplied the four definitions as a stimulus of sorts, and they will be the foundations of my thoughts. Everyone has heard of them (probably with varying degrees of interpretation) but I’m hoping that these generic statements will suffice.

The suggestion that there are edupolitical ideologies might seem ridiculous and  a waste of time to some, but I think it’s got plenty to do with how teachers collect, use, remix and then propagate their ideas and resources. It has to do with your views on copyright, ownership and freedom of knowledge. It has roots in your social awareness and personal upbringing, and in your circumstances past and present. It could also be a product of the recent influence of others – the faceless men in your spheres of influence that shape your thinking.

This exercise is always going to be tinged with folly, but I believe there are some serious thinking points involved too. So with this in mind, check out the table below:

The obvious question first – as an edupolitical ideologist,  where do your allegiances lay? Is it cut and dried, or more shaded and qualified?

Having said that, just like political parties, there are various factions and shades that blend these distinct groups into smaller parties and belief groups. As there should be. Subscribing to one philosophy holus bolus probably isn’t wise.

But to me the overriding question is “How should we vote when it comes to collecting, remixing and sharing ideas? Are ideas capital to be bought and sold?  Or should ideas be freely found, used and moved on, with acknowledgement of the previous users? It can be argued that no idea these days is original, just a variation on precursor themes. Even if a new “discovery” in pedagogy is made, should it be kept for profit? Already court cases in the medical world argue that discoveries shouldn’t be patented

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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4 thoughts on “Question Time in the house.”

  1. Obviously Utopianism is fantasy land. I’m learning to play guitar and find YouTube a fantastic resource. It’s free and it belongs to everyone. What motivates people to share their expertise freely? I’ve learnt so much fro YouTube, and not just guitar playing.
    However, at times YouTube resources are just the carrot to further resources. I have paid for extra resources from Guitarjamz because I likeed a number of his guitar tutorials.
    I guess what I’m saying is that I agree with you. Why should we limit ourselves to just communism or capitalism or whatever. I am thankful to many educators and bloggers who share their knowledge and expertise. But once they have made a name for themselves and have proven their ability, I am happy to pay for their resources.

    Reply
    • Hi Ben and thanks for the comment.
      I agree that EduUtopianism is something that doesn’t work in the real world, even though many people’s journeys for their work start with a dream. And I wouldn’t know half the stuff I know now if it wasn’t for the generous sharing of bloggers, tweeters and YouTubers.
      The point I was trying to make was “Can you own ideas?” I think you can own and sell a brand, which is a different thing. But to claim the idea as yours and place a cost on it is something I feel uncomfortable with. All my ideas stay CC Share Like – Attribution, so I guess that makes me an EduCommunist 🙂

      Jonesy

      Reply
  2. Hi there. Your article is very interesting, especially as I just finished reading another article Shaping Tech for the Classroom (http://www.edutopia.org/adopt-and-adapt). I think it was written a few years ago but it discusses new ideas and solutions to integrate tech more fully into the classroom. EduUtopia is a fantasy world right now, but as our youth of today, these Digital Natives, grow up and become teachers, then will we get to a point where digital natives are teaching digital natives? Sure technology will continue to develop, and probably at a much higher pace than it is now, but hopefully the youth of today will have the skills to adapt way more quickly than I did when technology exploded into the world. Many younger teachers, although inexperienced in the classroom, could be called upon more to take a lead in integrating tech into the classroom already. I consider myself to be fairly adept in using different types of technology but I am often taken aback at the new ideas and methods that some of my younger colleagues integrate tech, and the ease at which they do.
    I am a PE teacher like you, and have tried to incorporate more tech into my classes but often it comes down to me using the tech resources rather than the kids having it on hand themselves. We don’t have a class set of Itouches or Ipads so can’t use some of the amazing new apps that are available these days.
    Anyway, Edutopia may just become a reality in the next couple of decades. I hope I am around to see and be a part of the changes. For now, I am all over sharing ideas…..all hail Educommunism. Thanks for your great blog. I have been visiting it a lot lately. Got any new ideas on Android apps for PE Teachers??

    Reply
    • Hi Michelle, and thanks for your interest in the post 🙂
      You’re right when you say that things will change (and need to change) once this generation starts teaching the next. I’d hope that teachers see tech as an opportunity to make what they do engaging and relevant to their students, and not see it as a bolt-on. But we need to be careful with tech in the classroom. I’m discovering more and more, however, that focusing on tech tools in teaching is a game that you’ll never win, because the tools will keep changing. I’m discovering that learning about learning offers more potential to make the greatest difference to my teaching and ultimately serves our kids most honourably. Rather than concentrating on how to use iPads and apps,for example, focus instead on the learning that should take place (collaboration, student creation of new materials, for instance) and us the tools to achieve that. Combine tech with pedagogies like Project Based Learning or Games Based Learning and you have an incredibly broad field to play in. Already, we’ve moved beyond the “how to” of tech use and we should be into the “why/what for?” when we plan to use tech. There are many people blogging about this already. And your question on Android apps for PE teachers. I don’t have any off hand, but if you ask that question on Twitter and use the tag #pegeeks with it, I reckon you’ll get some answers before you know it! Cheers – Jonesy 🙂

      Reply

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