constantly learning nodes

Here are some thoughts about learning that I developed on this blog the past year.

We lack good models for organizing in a networked society. Many people are turning back to older, and outdated organizational models like nationalism and tribalism in an attempt to gain some stability. But most of our institutions and markets will fail to deliver in a network era society because they were never designed for one.

Perhaps the only unit of organization that is up to the task of working and living in networks is the individual human (the node). Change starts from within, yet almost all organizational transformation initiatives look at systems. Too much focus is on digital transformation and not human transformation. How do people transform? By doing things differently.

The biggest challenge we face is in educating citizens for the network era. Marina Gorbis in The Nature of the Future suggests four core skills:

  1. Sensemaking
  2. Social and emotional intelligence
  3. Novel and adaptive thinking
  4. Moral and ethical reasoning

None of these are focused on any particular subject, as most of our schools are organized. All of these require practice in a contextual social setting to gain mastery, which our schools do not offer either. In a networked society, learning has to be integrated into life, not just into school.

All fields of knowledge are expanding and artificial boundaries between disciplines are disintegrating. Our education systems need to drop the whole notion of subjects and content mastery and move to process-oriented learning. The subject does not matter, it’s merely grist for the cognitive mill.

If we want to help people deal with complex problems then they need to learn and practice in these. It starts in school. Subject-based curriculum sucks the complexity out of schooling, as do age-based classes. They promote conformity and teaching to the test.

While the industrial economy was based on finite resources, a creative economy is not. There is no limit to human creativity. We have to make a new social contract, not based on jobs, but enabling a learner’s mindset for life.

Networks are made up of nodes (people) and relationships. Curiosity and learning can create new connections between people and ideas. If we put our efforts into promoting learning (not schooling) for life we just might be able to create better ways of organizing our society. Constantly learning nodes can make for more resilient knowledge networks. This is the focus of personal knowledge mastery (PKM).

More: check out serendipitous drip-fed learning

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