Early mankind had a keen sense of place. Our ancestors knew their village, their area, and their limitations. Most of all, they knew – sensed – what was up and what was down. If they swung their feet to the ground, their feet stayed there. The concept of “upright” implies “right” as a premise.
Over the millenniums, our view has shifted. From the Vikings to the age of discovery, we learned we could sail over the horizon. We learned we lived on a round globe, and that what was up for us in one country was not the same direction in another. As kids, we discovered that fellow kids in Australia were looking at a different sky than we were in the United States.
This was brought home to us when we first left the comfort of the atmosphere and ventured out into space. I am a child of the 1950s/1960s, and my heroes were the original set of astronauts. From John Glenn to Ed White to Jim Lowell – not to mention the teen novels of Robert Heinlein – I learned about weightlessness and the concept that there was no “up” in space. Even for our world – the Christmas Eve pictures from Apollo 8 in 1968 showed a blue marble floating in space. More recently we have images from the International Space Station like this one at left.
So in our modern world view, what direction is up?
In higher education, it seems that sense of direction is shifting as well. Clay Shirky is lamenting the end of education’s Golden Age. Steve Wheeler is questioning the survival of higher education given disruptions like flipped classrooms, mobile learning, and MOOCs. It is definitely a time of change!
…or is it a time for change? Should classes continue to follow old models of “right” when the winds of change are blowing?
So the question for today:
Day 4 – How might our teaching change if we shifted our perspective of what is “right” or continuing my metaphor, what is “up”?
I do not necessarily have a definitive answer, but “What’s Up?” has replaced “Hello” as a greeting, so the question of what is “Up” has become its own lexicon. The spin off smartphone app WhatsApp has nearly 400 million users regularly reporting perspectives by text, audio, and video through 10 billion messages a day. Our students today are immersed in a culture that routinely wants to know what is up. So … does that open an opportunity for learning? Can we and our students learn through multiple perspectives?
And hopefully, as we look for new ways to view “up”, things will not spin out of control as they did in Gravity, as the clip below demonstrates.
So, what’s up with your teaching? Thoughts?