Thursday, 28 July 2016

The importance of re-imagining our world

In 1964 the folk rock duo Simon and Garfunkel released their song 'The sound of silence'. The album on which they released that song was dubbed a 'flop', apparently selling only 2000 copies. The song however went on to become a 'classic'.

In May 2016 'Disturbed' re-imagined and released the song.

Opinions will vary but, while the rest of the 'Disturbed' repertoire isn't to my personal taste, for me this is one of the most profound 're-imaginings' of a song that I have heard. This singer has taken an older song and created something the completely recognisable, yet profoundly different. This takes creativity, it takes imagination.

In the same way this

is a re-imagining of this

And this (a driverless truck)

is a re-imagining of this

which was a re-imagining of this

Or this

is a re-imaging of this

We live in times of rapid technological change, and this is having a profound impact on employment opportunities. Many of the jobs that we currently know may well not exist in 10-20 years time, and similarly there may well be jobs that exist in 20 years time that we can't possibly imagine today.

All of this is the result of that technological change, but it is also a result of human endeavour. At this stage it does seem likely that much of the creative process however may not be replaced by technology (although even that isn't certain). The re-imagining that I am talking about seems more likely to be around in the future than the job of a truck driver, or a builder, or a tax accountant.

The challenge for schools is to place much more emphasis on critical, creative and collaborative thinking. A lot of the development we are witnessing isn't the creation of entirely new ideas, products and processes, but the re-imagining of current ideas. There are always those radical, revolutionary ideas that come to the fore.  This re-imagining is a critical part of creativity.

We need  more 'Disturbed's to re-imagine for us, more critical thinkers who dare to suggest that horse drawn motive power isn't the future, more collaborators who aren't afraid to work with others re-imagine anything and everything in our world.

Inspired by last week's address by Yong Zhao, we need to stop stifling diversity and creativity, and embrace it, encourage it, celebrate it.

A colleague today made one of those comments that has left an indelible mark on my consciousness: 'We are asking kids to run the marae on their own'. We have to foster collaborative work. I recall listening to Eric Mazur, Harvard physics professor, when he told a conference that in his career he had been involved in writing (I think) 80+ academic papers.Yet not one of those had he authored entirely on his own. If collaboration and re-imagining are good enough for a Harvard physics professor, then they should be good enough for our secondary students.

Let's get re-imaging.

R Sutton

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely agree about the importance of re-imaging, critical thinking and collaboration Robin. The key to this is of course is teachers. For some this will involve a paradigm shift in terms of mental models of teaching practice. We are fortunate the NZC gives us the license to do this. I am enjoying your blogs - keep up the good work!