ETMOOC Anniversary and Noam Chomsky

Well, Tuesday January 14th was like old home week as the ETMOOCers gathered around our twitter feed (#etmchat/#etmooc) and chatted about what we had accomplished since starting ETMOOC. Quite a buzz! Some people described it as a high school reunion! As always it was a pleasure to share and discuss different ideas.

After the chat, I was energized as I always am after an ETMOOC exchange of ideas. I am currently reading Noam Chomsky’s “Chomsky on Mis Education” and after the twitter chat several of the ideas he was discussing really struck a chord with me. They explain why the ETMOOC community is so strong and why we all feel that it has been such a powerful learning tool. Chomsky mentioned, while writing about John Dewey and his approach to education that, “education is not to be viewed as something like filling a vessel with water but, rather, assisting a flower to grow in its own way…In other words, providing the circumstances in which the normal creative patterns will flourish.” (pg 38)

Everyone learnt that one in teacher’s college, right, but how often do we see it happen? Well, it happened in ETMOOC and it happens in DS106 everyday. So using social media tools to connect, share and collaborate allows for the ‘normal creative patterns’ to flourish. What connected communities like ETMOOC and DS106 allow to happen is for us, as academics, teachers, administrators and trainers is to throw off the shackles of curriculum, ‘what you should learn/do/know’ and actually play and make our own meaning without fear of judgement. It allows us to grow in our own way.

The other interesting aspect of ETMOOC and other connected learning I’ve participated in (CLMOOC, Open Spokes, Headless13, etc.) is that it promotes a “free association on terms of equality and sharing and cooperation, participating on equal terms to achieve common goals that were democratically conceived.” (pg 39) ETMOOC had us working, playing and learning on the same level. The hierarchy of the school structure vanished and we all worked together for both common goals (lipdub) as well as our own personal learning goals. According to Chomsky this produces “free human beings.” Certainly I feel as if I’ve been released from bondage. I may never go back to regular school again! (Oh well, no PhD for me!) I wonder what elementary school would look like if we approached education in this manner? And would society be willing to let children play their way to learning?