The New Culture of Learning: “where imaginations play, learning happens”

In the afore-mentioned, very enjoyable book by Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown (A New Culture of Learning), the authors conclude with the following:

“Think back to the assertions that [Johan] Huizinga put forward in Homo Ludens: (1) Play is more than something we do, it is who we are, and (2) play precedes culture. We want to add to those concepts by proposing that play fuses the two elements of learning that we have been talking about: the information network and the petri dish (or bounded environment of experimentation). That [-p.117] fusion is what we call the new culture of learning. The critical idea is that the two elements – of information and experimentation – are being brought together in a way that transforms them both. It is that fusion that defines the new culture of learning.” (pp.116-117)

“In the first,” they continue, “play is the central tool for inverting the traditional hierarchy of learning and knowing. We believe that, instead of posing questions to find answers, it is essential to use answers to find increasingly better questions. When we address a problem like a puzzle or a game, we engage in acts of productive inquiry, where the answers we find become part of our stockpile of information, which can then be used to find better and more interesting questions as well as to solve future problems. And because the problems often take the form of a riddle that makes sense only in hindsight (when the answer is discovered), this productive inquiry requires – even demands – acts of imagination. [Multiplayer online] Games and the worlds they happen in are helping us understand how to engage our imaginations both for play and for connecting to a collective. The second element – of experimentation, growth, and evolution – also emerges out of play. Both elements, when fused, accelerate dramatically once they begin to function within the collective.
By following Huizinga’s lead, we can understand not only how each of these elements works individually and at a personal level, but also what happens when they come together. The result is a new form of culture in which knowledge is seen as fluid and evolving, the personal is both enhanced and refined in relation to the collective, and the ability to manage, negotiate, and participate in the world is governed by the play of imagination.” (p.117)

As we watch the world move to a state of near-constant change and flux, we believe that connecting play and imagination may be the single [-p.118] most important step in unleashing the new culture of learning.” (pp.117-118)

Only when we care about experimentation, play, and questions more than efficiency, outcomes, and answers do we have a space that is truly open to the imagination.
   And where imaginations play, learning happens.” (p.118)

Ref: Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown (2011) A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Lexington, Ky. : CreateSpace?

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About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
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