Central to life within a networked society is trust, empowerment, and agency.
All digitally connected peoples, but particularly the young expect to be trusted to use and learn with the digital as desired, with the agency to use the capability largely unfettered.
People want to have control of their use of and learning with the digital, and to exercise that control lifelong
It matters not whether folk are three (Chaudron, 2015), 15, in their 40’s or in a care home.
We all expect to choose our own suite of digital devices, to configure them as we desire and to use them the instant wanted, how we wish, and to learn what we want, anywhere, anytime, 24/7/365.
Moreover, we expect to connect at speed.
We accept the need to act responsibly, and work within boundaries, but the underpinning expectation – the default setting – is that everyone regardless of age or situation should be respected as an individual, trusted, empowered, and have the agency to use the technology they desire, as they desire largely unfettered.
You, like I, see government being involved only when we breach the law.
And yet the moment the students, parents and teachers move through the school gate government exerts its unilateral control.
It says that it rejects society’s new normals, and it will continue to distrust and disempower the students, parents, and most of its teachers. Moreover, it will unilaterally decide what technology will be used, which not, how it will be configured and used. It alone will decide what will be taught and assessed, how and when, and that the students will continue to be taught the same material, still in large class groups.
There is invariably scant, if any, willingness to trust, empower any of the ‘clients’, to listen to them or to give them any agency.
How long the dichotomy will be accepted by society at both the individual school and system level will be interesting to watch.
It is a dichotomy that in many ways bids all question the nature and purpose of schooling within a networked society, and the extent to which the electorate is prepared to accept unilateral government control.
Bestowing trust means distributing the control of the teaching and learning, something governments worldwide are reluctant to do today as they seek to use ‘their’ schools for political advantage.
It is most assuredly a ‘new normal’, a tension all associated with schools are going to have to contend with until the school practises mirror those of society.
What is already apparent from several notable US court rulings that any efforts by education authorities to extend their control beyond the physical school walls will be challenged and judging by the rulings thus far will be thwarted.
Unwittingly the COVID experience, the necessity of schools to rely upon the home resources of its digitally connected families and teachers, and to trust and give both greater agency likely added pressure to the school’s needing to adopt a more collaborative and socially networked mode of schooling.
Simultaneously the dependence on the family personal resources likely also enhanced the agency of the parents, an agency that many parents will see as the new normal and will not forego.
Notwithstanding if a survey was conducted with the present school and system leadership most would probably still contend only, they have the expertise to decide what is right for every child, not the parents, the teachers or indeed the students.
Prior to 2020 only the exceptional schools recognised the educational desirability of transitioning to the networked mode, of empowering its community, actively taking advantages of its resources and expertise, and creating networked school communities.
What the situation is today only those in the schools can tell.
Sadly, in the end when it comes to trust and agency it is all about control, and whether governments, and in many instances religious orders, and their bureaucrats, are willing to cede some control of ‘their’ schools.
Despite the spin rarely do governments have the apt education of the young as their priority.
Intriguingly the more one delves the more one appreciates how little trust there has been in traditional schooling, the extent to which the governments continue to use schools to enhance their power and the challenge even the most capable of heads and educators will have in running a school based on trust, agency, and genuine respect.
- Chaudron, S (2015) Young Children (0-8) and Digital Technology Luxembourg, European Commission JRC and Policy Reports 2015 -http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC93239