As citizens have new choices, new chances for learning, their willingness to seek leadership should increase. We may expect that they will experience more deeply both their own independence and their need for guidance. As they are liberated from manipulation by others, they should learn to profit from the discipline others have acquired in a lifetime. Deschooling education should increase — rather than stifle — the search for [people] with practical wisdom who would be willing to sustain the newcomer in his educational adventure. As masters of their art abandon the claim to be superior informants or skill models, their claim to superior wisdom will begin to ring true. –Illich (1970)
To Exhibit Learning
Exhibitions beautifully disrupt institutions and show deep learning. An exhibition, in short, is a public presentation of learning. Exhibitions are practiced at all levels of education and in all fields. A learner or group of learners publicly exhibit their understanding of knowledge territories and connect learning to relevant issues of today. This is important and hard work that shows the individual and group that learning does not only happen within the walls of an institution but is a matter for society in general. Inviting the public to view, question, comment, and participate in a learning community reveals, connects and networks learning communities. Exhibitions also decolonize the pedagogue. When educators open their process or teaching to the outside world they ensure an essential conversation to ensue on the import of the work they do. Whether you adhere to Ted Sizer and the Coalition of Essential Schools vision of exhibitions as assessment or just agree with performance assessment being public I have no doubt that you see the benefit of opening the learning process to communities outside of your institution, school, room…. in dynamic ways.
Dynamism and the ability to imagine, collaborate, and co-design learning environments are hallmarks of effective pedagogues today. These are all skills that are not learned in the semester course on literacy or technology in education. Many of us face institutional constraints in our work in education and seek ways to open our learning communities. We work to collectivize, democratize, co-create and enable personal and group passions for flow in learning. Many of us have been, as a passionate educator once told me I would become prior to my first classroom experience, ” a coalition in your own classroom” (sub whatever you want to imagine to replace coalition in your situation). But this is not enough. Learning is an ecology that is interconnected and interdependent. We must share our communities work, we must exhibit, the whole ecology must weigh its social imagination into the mix….We need to show learning, failure and iteration and ask for feedback, connect and network our work on new levels…. we must enmesh our pedagogy with the world.
Open a human creation
Exhibitions open education to the world. In the process of preparing for public participation in learning the individual looks deeply at the connections they are making….the common good in their endeavor….their learning moves from 8-3, 12:30-1:30, Tuesday and Thursday to their heart. When you face the public you face your heart….Yes nerves flash signals and the body quivers upon the thought of being on stage, but your heart tells the story. For the young person in high school the story might be “what does it mean to go to school in the 21st century….what is ‘world history’ ‘literature’, ‘science’, ‘my life’…. For the pedagogue the story needs to be ” ‘what am I undertaking’, ‘what role do I have in society’, ‘who may look to me’, ‘how will I collaborate with the world’….”. As one who believes in the commons and in learning as ecology I want to see more than a transcript and degree from any institution from “masters” of pedagogy or any field. I want to see a heart beating, a passion for learning….something different from books and sites….a human creation.
Find a learning ecology
Join me in finding ways to open education. Exhibitions are just one of these ways. We who have decided to be pedagogues as part of our learning ecology will benefit from making the learning communities we work within visible. This networking will help other communities change, become dynamic, and change again to make learning dynamic, resilient, and ubiquitous.
This week is exhibition week in one of the learning communities I work with
I look forward to being a part of this meaningful time.