Friday, November 13, 2015

La Vie Active

Nothing would have changed if I hadn't opened the door to my classroom.  

I might have satisfied 'my students' in 'my classroom' and nothing would have changed. 

It is only by working/learning out loud and understanding that the classroom walls are virtual that things have changed.

The majority of the students that we work with have English language skills which are limited by their limited access to English speaking communities. 

If you have family who is connected to English speakers or who has the means to send you on a language exchange your privileges guarantee less limited skills. 

It is a question of access. 

As there is a 'digital divide' so there is a 'linguistic divide'.

If learners already have a network of English language speakers (not especially) natives then this is reflected in their social media networks and also their digital literacies. 

Research carried out for the CLAVIER project demonstrates that the challenge which faces us is to build the bridges between learners and (language) learning communities via afffinities.

The practices of language teachers (as other teachers) in the public sector here in France are largely protected and linked to the interests of institutional deciders, publishers, testers, and education equipment suppliers. 

There are many good reasons for teachers to continue practices which have hardly evolved and where 'new' technology has largely reinforced existing practices of teacher controlled/centred closed classrooms.

Learners are a captive audience for a captive educator, behind 'closed doors.'

Learners may well also be a captive audience for 'individualised learning paths' behind the closed doors of the walled garden of a 'Learning Management System.'

What a teacher does (once the door is closed) may be largely unknown.

Younger teachers (good students) largely reproduce teaching that resulted in them becoming good students encouraged by traditional peer teachers.

Bridging the connection between digital practices in informal learning and in formal learning may well be considered as largely incompatible.

Research into inservice and preservice teachers perceptions of Online Intercultural Exchanges reflect stories of informal learning/formal learning in business and individual experiences of education. 

Learners with innovative teachers remember them.

Teacher centred teaching produces teacher centred teachers.

It is a question of  first "educational culture" and second access to innovative networks.

"Teaching space" architecture often encourages 'closed door policies'.

Research into alternative spaces, research into alternative teaching/learning organisations has resulted in open learning spaces and ,networked enhanced team teaching.

Research into meaningful networked enhanced active learning, have resulted in making global connections which are reflected in transformation of the learning space. 

How do we transform pockets of innovation into wider uptake of innovation?

What can be learnt from studying the 'learning spaces' and practices of the most innovative companies?

Working out loud, sharing photos of new spaces inspire others...has succeeded in opening a little more than space.

"Networked market-led/PISA innovation"

What a teacher does in some institutions (once the door is closed) is largely his problem until standardised testing of some sort is introduced and a compulsory course book imposed. 

What a teacher does increasingly in many institutions is fill in forms for data retrieval and centralised analysis and control.

American language testing services impose technology specifications to become a recognised tester.

Out go the French keyboards in comes Qwerty.

The language training market is enormous.

A quick Google search brings up astronomical figures: the market is projected to rise $193 billion by 2017.

The students that we work with are not necessarily the most connected in terms of network.

The students that we work with are not necessarily going to benefit from foreign language certifications - even if obliged to study for them (unless they become passports to advancement).

Education or protection racket?

The question I ask myself at times is do we want education for our children or a corporate protection racket?

Note references to the research publishing mafia.

"Academic publishers the most profitable obsolete technology in history"

Note response of Steve Wheeler:

"Inspire to learn."

Meanwhile there appears for many of them to be a yawning gap between their 'education' and what they call in France 'La Vie Active' (the rest of their lives).

La vie inactive

I am never quite sure what one might term education - 'La Vie Inactive'?

Work is done largely for a grade. No grade. No work. No grade. No degree. No degree? Anxiety.

Anxiety: what am I going to do next?

Networks are everything.

The challenge is enormous.

The importance of meaningful networked learning can hardly be understated.

As Steve Wheeler says: "Networks are everything."

The unattractiveness of unmeaningful commercial networked teaching and testing can hardly be understated.

Peer support.

A recent interview of an ex-student underlines the challenge.

What students need he says is meaning, and dialogue with their peers and elders.

As, I connect with Working Out Loud via Bruno Winck, as I attempt to connect students struggling with English with Working Out Loud Week #wolweek, I wonder if we face an impossible task to really open up public education.

Will these students take an opportunity to share their learning with a wider network seriously?

Will these students think of it as a reason to pander to the whims of an unrealistic teacher?

Will the other learners be patient with their faltering attempts to communicate their learning?

Will we be able to go a little further to bridge the divide between active more expert learners and those who need their advice, their encouragement, their ideas most - these young students who waiting to enter into what they term 'La Vie Active.'

As I see the classroom open up, as I see more and more students connecting with their peers around the world, I see reasons for hope.

These are our children.

Please help.


  1. You line out the problem very clearly. It is a bootstrap v revolution problem. Can you work your way out of it from within or does Papa need a whole new bag?

  2. To use Kaufmann's phrase, the fewer adjacent possibles, the fewer affordances, the lesser the access. Or to use Steven Johnson's metaphor about 'adjacent possibles', the fewer the total doors in the mansion the less the likelihood of something new and adaptive will be found.

  3. Or perhaps what I should have said, the less likely you are to find a cupboard door to Narnia.