This is part of a set of pictures inspired by California. They are literal, and tightly done, and open to interpretation; they are colorful and monochromatic, repetitive and random. They are waves that have broken shore for me during our time here.
“. . . there’s no time for fact checking or any sort of basic research in today’s BuzzFeed world of made up garbage.‘ – Daniel Eran Dilger
This is the future.
These words have been uttered ever since we first began pairing our imaginations with our sense of the passage of time. More often than not, though, the future is a continuation of the past, as life is cyclical and connected far more often than it is isolated and disjointed. The present is informed by the context of what has gone before, and the future is predicated on our understanding and integration of that context, even if it is only personal in nature. We do not create factual context, it is ours only to determine its meaning to us based on our understanding of it.
Current trends in education in The United States (which mirror larger national trends) seem to favor knowledge without context, vision without understanding or empathy, leadership without expertise, efficiency at the expense of depth and individuation, and worst of all, profit and image above people and results. We value hype, we value hyperbole, and we value short-term gain over long-term longevity. An unhealthy norm is being established that pierces our very core, and we are bleeding out.
We all have the capacity to transform knowledge into understanding, and from understanding, further inferences are made possible by the previously integrated connections that we have made. This is a natural side effect of learning, it is the inevitable result of the integration of context meeting that understanding. Based on what we conclude from this natural process, we carry ourselves forward into our lives with an awareness that is expanded from whatever we knew previously, and being grounded in it, we are endlessly adaptable.
The result of a process, however, is not to be confused with the process itself. Qualities that are inherent cannot and need not be manufactured. Intelligence, imagination, and inspiration cannot be mapped or quantified. These qualities are strengthened by how we apply our integrated understanding of knowledge, but they are not based upon the methods by which we acquired that knowledge in the first place, let alone how much we have paid for it.
It would seem to me that the future is carried on the waves of integration and creativity, not left in the patterns in the sand after the waves have receded. Though those patterns can illuminate those particular waves, they are seldom useful in predicting precisely how and where the next waves will break, or what wonders may be riding on their backs. We may believe we can buy the sea – the sea will happily swallow us, all the same.
Efforts are being made to turn things around. Grant Wiggins’ website, ‘Granted, and. . . ‘, is a good resource for further information and inquiry. This post and this piece are dedicated to all of the professional educators in the U.S. and abroad that care so passionately and work so diligently to enrich the lives, minds, and spirits of the children that so briefly come under their care and tutelage. Your voices and efforts are indeed severely undervalued.
UPDATE: I’m sorry to report that Grant Wiggins has recently passed away. I offer my sincere condolences to his family and loved ones. At present, his site remains up and a great resource. Another fantastic site addressing education at large and reform in particular is the blog of Diane Ravitch.