Transcription notes from SCHOOL 005 / THECUBE – 11.10.2012 ‘On Knowledge Exchange and Educative Praxis, Now’ SCHOOL - Share knowledge, skills and ideas without boundaries. Pure knowledge exchange. THECUBE - Innovation at the core. Brainplay – how the brain works – feeding, bombarding your brain. Depth and different ways of thinking. Away from entrepreneurship Chris – Projects in Ghana, started a co-operative for farmers – failure of knowledge exchange as a result of interventions by NGOs. Micro-finance bank in Ghana. Mary – Started teaching in 1970 – teaching deaf people in schools, college, university. Juan – Working at THECUBE – makes applications, gamer, cooking, photography. David – Launching a men’s fashion label, innovative form of men’s clothing with a political background. Diane – Retired politician. Molly – Training as a tailor on Savile Row. Dan – Music-based. Lucy - KIOSK – works collaboratively in the fields of relational geographies. Curator and artist. Ben – Working for Virgin. Start-up, matching research in universities with companies. Cat – Set designer and prop-maker. Tom – Artist, working with perception-enhancement techniques. Air pollution, holograms, new ways of seeing. Lucy – Business coach for the creative industries. Interested in how people learn. Julian – Intern. -----SCHOOL: How feasible is it to determine knowledge as a practice? What is the validity of doing so? How valid is naming knowledge as a practice?
Difference between the two, between knowledge exchange and knowledge as practice. Mary: Difference in engagement between teacher and student, after having being trained, and educated to educate. Lucy: Knowledge practice and knowledge exchange are different. eg: curating as an art form – is a practice of creating or drawing out meaning between work. Curating in itself is a knowledge practice, rather than a physical art practice. SCHOOL: Do you see what we do as a practice of knowledge, or are we just organising an event? Specialist fields, knowledge – coming together, allowing a space or platform to generate new thought through new links that have been made in that discussion. That is a knowledge practice in itself. Different ways of sharing knowledge, this is a legitimate practice. Creating situations that don’t usually come about. Away from it being tied to the lofty realms of academia. David: Flat thing that exists externally. SCHOOL: How can we perceive it as being a practice? THECUBE: Contextualise this with Chris – when you go into Ghana, are you giving people new knowledge? Where does the line come from, practicing knowledge, going into a new territory and practicing knowledge, or just giving them the tools to extract their own knowledge. If you’re going into a territory like that thinking this is how we do it and I’m going to give it to you. Chris: Cross-cultural implications – bee-keeping, great way of generating income in rural areas, you’re working with something that is already there. Knowledge transfer, however, bringing something that you know and practice in one place may not be effective at all in another. THECUBE: building the well in the centre of the village so as to prevent the twomile trek out of town to get water. This however wasn’t used, and or practical. Better / effective. Chris: revealing problems with the international development model – people with the money. Help – contentious terminology. Stewarding money – towards what people think, people want and need. Schools as examples: everyone loves the idea of building a school. Contributing money into helping build schools, generally education is probably something that is always going to be beneficial for everyone. More education is generally a
good thing. But in truth, if your goal is development, then in most countries what you do not need is more schools, you need things, unemotional things like roads – infrastructure. Issue of who is in charge. THECUBE: Our knowledge, of how we see the world, would dictate to us that this is a better option. Knowledge is also tied to perception. Is it okay to say to people that this is your new knowledge? Lucy: Isn’t that just badly researched; did anyone ask them if they wanted a well in the centre of town? THECUBE: You can still manipulate perception – getting people to think that they want that, for example you get that in advertising all the time. David: I think that’s a good example of knowledge that is divorced from practice then. Not practicing on the ground, so knowledge doesn’t actually land, or apply. Chris: Another example, is at Heathrow Terminal 5 – in the lift there is no button because it goes only between two floors– which is logical from an engineering point of view, but terrifying walking into the lift without any buttons – you have no control. This is knowledge divorced from practice. Mary: What about in my context: A mother with a deaf child, who can’t communicate, who’s not socialized, he’s got no language, and the mother is offered sign language courses, and doesn’t attend, meanwhile the child is becoming more dysfunctional. You offer the knowledge, but the mother isn’t taking it. That often happens when you’re trying to help families. THECUBE: This is what David said, about context. Eco-systems of knowledge. Chris: Or even if people take it on board but are not deploying it. David: Theoretical knowledge. Chris: Computer Science – people studying systems in isolation who, in practice are not very good engineers. How all components work together as one, sitting in the whole context of a domain. Approaches to education like this are really important. THECUBE: This is a tool? Mary: A method of teaching?
Diane: There was a time in education where you didn’t need to contextualize. Operate without understanding the logic behind something. Behavioral science – pushing the buttons, not needing to know why. Now you need to know why as opposed to how and what. Cyclical fashions of education. Lucy: This is interesting in relation to the educational model of this: how the criticism of the exam, the assessment model of education. Learning by rote – cramming, using a completely different part of your brain. Using your memory. Using your textbook. Not learning by understanding. SCHOOL: Ed Cooke, set up this website – methods of memorizing things – interesting link – learning things and memorizing things are not the same. Way of putting facts together and understanding why they relate to each other. Lucy: Ed does present a crossover between the two I think? He was talking about how to learn the series of US presidents, by making up a story affiliated to each president. This creates a situation completely divorced from its meaning. Diane: You could Google that in half the time. Why do you have to memorize things now? Are we talking about knowledge divorced from information? Do you really need to memorize masses of stuff? Lucy: Do you remember everything you Google? Diane: Do you need to? Ben: You can only Google for something when you know what you’re Googling. If it’s factual, you can’t just go to the computer. It’s fine for looking up presidents, but … Diane: But then you’re learning a system, you’re not learning facts. Ben: That’s better – facts are useless because you can just Google them. Lucy: I remember so little of the Internet, information overload. It’s momentary. Facts are not useless, they help you in contextualizing other things. THECUBE: Different types of memory anyway. Emotional memory and factual memory and learning. The emotional learning, you could never look up on the Internet. David: They can be related. I’ve only just moved to London and am fascinated. The A10, for example has been a road for 2000 years. I feel a connection to that road. That really changes my relationship to that area. It changes me too. I’m
more connected to the landscape, through what was initially just a fact. More complex meaning. Mary: I used to force my students to have an emotional relationship with hard ideas. So that they’d remember them. Diane: Kids are not going to learn until they are ready to learn. Until they are in a space to learn that. Even as an adult. THECUBE: Somerhill school – you don’t have to go to classes, unless you’re ready to go to classes, but in a formal education system, that’s totally inappropriate. As amazing as this system is, we have such problems with our education system. There’s a clash of systems. Diane: Now you find in schools, all children have individual learning programmes. They work through as individuals. Things are constantly changing in schools. Juan: It’s the same systems pretty much everywhere. Things are changing faster in schools. We’re talking about memory and facts and how we link them. To memorize is important. Now you just go to the computer and try find, intellectually, how to solve problems. Now we are lazy because of this. I don’t need to remember my mum’s telephone number. Now I just need to go to my phone and press ‘m’ – we should focus on ways to develop the brain of the kids, on ways, to find their way through current technologies, rather than memorizing the names of the presidents of the US. If you’re in that environment, where you need to do that, that’s fine. To me, that’s useless. That’s not common need. Lucy: That system with regard to your mum’s phone number, totally falls apart. It’s like me trying to get here – my phone died, I always use the GPS on my phone, but I couldn’t and got completely lost. That system totally falls apart. I’m not saying you shouldn’t use these systems, but it’s flawed. Become too reliant on things like Google. You’re in less of a strong position with it. Mary: Getting people ready fro the future, this is important. Flexibility. Schools needing to change. Juan: Perhaps what I mean, is to try and spend more time making people more capable of coping with this. Finding a way to find a solution, and success. While before, if you base your knowledge on fact, as soon as you forget, It’s failed. Provide kids with tools. In school, teaching younger kinds, imposing what we think is best. Too late. It was at one time the best way, but not now. I think it’s positive for individuals to learn how to do these things.
THECUBE: Do you think we need education as education is now, or do you think peer to peer learning is better, what do you think needs to change? Juan: I’m not saying get rid of the books. You do need general knowledge. You can’t try to change a country like Ghana, if you don’t know where Ghana is. Developing to me means that I can see things that I couldn’t previously, that’s through intelligent development. In schools, there is not enough time dedicated to this. One to one education is very expensive. Tom: Relate it back to people learning computer systems. Starting off with an underlying base knowledge and then specializing. Then, what they can do is communicate with others who have other specialist knowledge. Being able to recognize passion, where the emotional link comes in. Engagement and application. Facilitating communication. Knowledge doesn’t exist without the ability to communicate it. Without access to it, it just sits there and is useless. Using innovation in universities. Practical application. Technology facilitates this. The platform is as important as the knowledge itself. Ben: It’s always good to disseminate knowledge. There’s not enough of that going on in universities as it is. Marty: More sharing and less competitiveness. Fighting for resources. Need to break down the structures. Chris: The Internet is phenomenal for. Open source – collaboration. Printing press. Peer-reviewed scientific journals – communicate worldwide. Limited to people who have technical ability with computers? Open-source programming able to flow down to technology, to politics. Open-source politics. Ben: This is stuff we can do today. People who actively have control… Tom: Happening already. Github – Linux – open source way of working. Platform which is bottom-up. Collaborate openly with others, then if you have a disagreement, you can separate out. Pilot scheme to bring politics into that: publish a policy, peer-reviewed, people can add, subtract. Voting system. Base knowledge. Communication – to know that it’s there in the first place. Ben: What many make is not necessarily better for many. Not necessarily a good thing. If many people who don’t know anything about politics, is that better than just having one professional? Unsure about open-source. Great idea. But if you ask the UK about politics, then
you’re going to have a messy country. Linux, still gatekeepers in place. Control. Not necessarily, one that fits all. Chris: Essentially, not everybody has a worthwhile opinion about anything. Juan: Giving politics back to the people. The reason why we don’t know about politics, is because we can’t actually do anything about it. Open-source model, in this context, you have users and reputation- if you give an answer to something someone posts – create a reputation in that network. Facebook, follow and rate. Like and not like. Profiles. We could give people the opportunity to get into politics, this particular knowledge arena – everyone is capable of politics… Not everyone is capable of medicine, or something more specific and technical. THECUBE: It’s really dangerous to think that just because you don’t know it, you shouldn’t have access or a go at it. Everything started with not knowing. The Wright brothers did not know how to build an airplane, but they did it. People are going to fuck up, we have to be able to deal with the fuck up. Juan: Forums on the Internet – people say fuck off, no moderation. THECUBE: We’re so scared of breaking down systems. Control. Keeping systems in place. We don’t have control over anything. We need to get rid of that fear. Be prepared for it to be messy. Chris: It’s going to take a while to get good at this stuff. “It took us 150 years to work out that a peer-reviewed journal was a good idea, then it took us 5 years for someone to work out that pornographic novels were a good idea after the printing press was invented.” Over time we’ll get better at using tools. SCHOOL: Forums – method of sharing information. Do you have to have a teacher figure then students? In a forum – everyone can be teacher and everyone can be student. That’s certainly coming into play now – it’s completely non-hierarchical. We’ve come into this room on the same plane. This is the practice thereof. That’s how the SCHOOL model seems to be going. Re-introduce formal schooling. THECUBE: Looking at formal systems of educations – so many limitations with it – otherwise we wouldn’t be having this discussion…
Dissatisfied. You graduate, then knowledge is over. What can be alternatives? Is the problem in the actual teaching when we are still in school, or does the problem occur afterwards? SCHOOL: I’m not in this situation because I was dissatisfied. THECUBE: Not as a dissatisfaction, in that sense. But, I graduated and then there seemed to be, there was suddenly a lack of something and then we created our own education systems. SCHOOL: That’s largely to do with the political climate in which we fell into the world, post-education. There are no jobs – that’s why I’m doing this – I want to ultimately be doing something like this, within this remit, but I can’t get paid for it, and so I’ve done it myself. I guess it is being dissatisfied with the reality of our political situation. David: It is being dissatisfied with the economic climate. SCHOOL: Is what we’re doing replicating what is already there? Institutions, etc. Lucy: No, not at all… SCHOOL: Mocking and in a way imitating what is already at play. Struggle with this. I’m not angry, or trying to create an alternative necessarily, but in black and white, yes, we are mimicking. Lucy: More of an extrapolation of aspects of it. SCHOOL: Taking the best bits. Lucy: Naturally, as you get older, things become more peer-to-peer. Learning collaborations. Next step is self-directed activity. Just putting off reality, being by yourself. THECUBE: I’m interested in finding an alternative to the problems I see in education. SCHOOL: That’s interesting, were not trying to find alternatives, there’s just an urge to continue learning. Lucy: Progression, naturally. All this education has prepared you for not being in education.
Continue learning. THECUBE: We’re re-building a structure. David: What structure? Lucy: Non-hierarchical, which I think is my problem with higher education. It’s kind of an asset, in that you have source material, you’re taught by a teacher, they tell you their interpretation of it. It’s mediated knowledge. SCHOOL: But the mediator is crucial. Lucy: Two different things. Being mediated to you and a mediator. Imparting knowledge. Juan: That’s natural to humans. We need to feel somehow that one person has more knowledge. It’s like you’re Dad telling you something – you’re going to believe him, because he’s your Dad. That’s intuitive to humans. Lucy: I don’t think it’s very effective, teaching students to be analytical of work. I’ve listened to the same lecture by the same tutor three times, word for word. It’s him telling you exactly what this text means. Learning by rote. Sophie: Natural way of teaching though. Learning science. Someone says it’s right, then someone saying it’s not right. Lucy: Peer-to-peer – this happens there. I believe you and listen to you in the same way as I would listen to everyone else. Imbalance in a hierarchy. SCHOOL: We’re talking about two very different stages of education. Primary and then our experiences at university, and our opinions about how we think these two should be structured are completely different. Would therefore peer-topeer learning work in primary schools? At Somerhill, these children are making decisions about whether they want to go to class….? Lucy: Levels of maturity. THECUBE: But then you’re talking about brain structure. SCHOOL: At university, if it was hierarchy-less, how would this work? Mary: Peer to peer learning is very strong. THECUBE: Doesn’t it depend what you’re learning? I’m learning Neuroscience, and I would prefer to be taught by someone who knows about it. Diane: Both are effective.
David: Fields of knowledge. It’s vital in specific areas of interest for formalized knowledge. Diane: Without a formal structure that is within a school or university, and without the external goal, are you saying there is a lack of intellectual discipline to keep on learning? SCHOOL: In terms of SCHOOL, it came about certainly in context to a lack of opportunity in terms of jobs. I’m not saying that there’s a lack of intellectual rigour or inspiration. THECUBE: We wouldn’t be doing this if there wasn’t any motivation. When were universities invented? SCHOOL: We’re doing this for the fundamental enjoyment of it – knowledge exchange is a wonderful thing. It started off through celebrating the joy of the conversation that we’re having: this is wonderful, I want to tell everyone else about it – why don’t we facilitate a space where people can share and do that. Putting to question the validity of it. You leave school or university, maybe you have an idea about what you want to do, maybe you don’t. To a certain degree, it’s totally self-indulgent. THECUBE: Do we need it? Sophocles was in 496BC. The university as we know it was done in 1350. I’m more interested in having 1/10 of Sophocles capacity to come up with shit, than how we use the brain now? Do you we need it to become intelligent? Sophocles didn’t go to university. Ben: Someone must have taught him something. THECUBE: Yes, but it’s intuitive. Do we need the structure as it is? Juan: Would you go to university, if these titles that we get don’t mean anything? The implication of what university means. THECUBE: School and the social-class implication. Lucy: It depends on the discipline. You know, you’ve been out of university two
years, but you can’t get a job. You do it because you want to. THECUBE: I just Googled, Da Vinci also didn’t go to university. Lucy: University as we know it – but teaching and learning existed in all forms of ways before that. SCHOOL: It’s inherent? THECUBE: Was it teaching and learning or exploring? SCHOOL: It’s one of the same. Just ‘cause there wasn’t that framework in place: the fundamental values of all these places, are sharing, learning, exploring, furthering knowledge. THECUBE: What’s the validation – to try to expunge other people’s knowledge is so I can have more pathways in my brain. Part of what university has done has killed that, killed curiosity. SCHOOL: Departmentalising knowledge. But it hasn’t killed it – people are doing so much, lots of different things. Multidisciplinary. THECUBE: Where’s the Da Vinci of today? Tom: It will never happen again. He was named with coming up with those things. If you think of things in history, the lightbulb, Edison – there were about ten other people doing the same thing. All that’s happened is the complexity of what we’re trying to do now has gone up a notch? There was probably a much smaller pool of people working on these things? THECUBE: How do we get other people to have these types of brains. We’ve lost these Renaissance-types of men and women, people are too afraid to make mistakes. SCHOOL: Problem there: there are clearly defined boundaries between subjects Formally you go to university to get a job. Prior to this there was room to explore everything; if you were interested, you could do that. Lucy: You couldn’t do that all, all of those things to the extent that you can now, it’s to do with degrees. Ben: Shouldn’t we then be teaching inquisitiveness and creativeness? Maybe we could try and encourage this throughout education. Not just in the arts, but in science and languages.
David: In addition to this, this thing about practice is vital. I did a PhD, but the drawback is that the whole university setting is so divorced from the reality of life. I found this incredibly difficult. The people in the university context, were not bringing the practical grounding that the knowledge was based in. Chris: Most people are born with a great deal of creativity, but it is educated out of them. The coat hanger experiment: if you can within two minutes come up with as many uses for the coat hanger, you are deemed a creative genius – most children aged five have been proven to be creative geniuses. Problem: shutting down creative ability. Dan: What you’re doing is entirely subjective; down to your own inquisitive nature. If you don’t want to learn, you’re not going to learn. People take from education entirely different things – the job I have now, is totally unrelated to what I was studying. Everything starts with people being like-minded, together with a desire to build something together, we all teach each other what to do. Lucy: It’s about impetus to learn. University itself is an impetus. You come out and work with others, that then becomes your impetus. Desire, encouragement, support – important. The only feasible way to continue this structure. Key trajectories and questions: Knowledge divorced from practice. Knowledge tied to perception. Memory and perception – emotional and logical learning. Clash of educational systems – problematic. Flawed systems re: technology. Relying on such systems is problematic. Criticality of teaching future generations how to operate systems themselves as opposed to the content itself as content is readily available. Ways and systems to disseminate knowledge. Bottom-up platforms; start collaboratively then specialize. Fear of the unknown – of breaking down systems – we should just be bold and go
with intuition â€“ to be accepting of failure. Is the problem in the actual teaching when we are still in school, or does the problem occur afterwards?
A transcript of the first collaborative micro-symposium between JOURNEY / SCHOOL and THECUBE.