Change. Different. In addition, a world full of digital technology. So how are you going to relate to all these digital changes that education is going through right now? You may not have signed up to become an “educator”, nor a “student” for that matter, at all, for that very reason. Then how about this?
If you try education as a “teacher”, or a “student” for that matter, with a different group of people than usual, or a completely new subject, or even a different geographical location, you discover something: it is different.
Then you easily get the feeling that you have ended up “on the moon”.
In primary school, students are relatively young. Just being able to make them sit still can be difficult. But at university, students can be more or less self-sufficient. You can meet young people who, seriously, consider themselves capable of more than a professor – not too seldom are they also right.
If you try commercial education with companies, you quickly discover the difference between professionals who prioritize their time, and school-youth who may not prioritize their own time at all. The difference between students who pay for their education themselves and students where someone else has paid can be huge.
Like ending up on the moon actually.
But this way you can also discover completely different types of differences…
In some countries, it may be obvious for participants to take part in a discussion. In other countries, this is not at all as obvious. In one end students that demand to be allowed to discuss, in the other end; students that demand to only “consume” what an educator has to say.
The difference between those that just see education as pure entertainment, and the ones that do it as a must, even a desperate need in order to survive, keeping a job, or getting a new one, for instance, can also be tremendously big.
In some situations, you may think that you know in advance how education is going, and then discover that you are completely wrong. In other situations you may think that it should be completely different from what you yourself are used to, only to then discover that it is not so different at all.
Well, I´m not a “rocket scientist”, but I have tried doing education in at least these countries; Sweden, USA, Norway, China, Iran, Russia, Cuba, England, Germany, Spain, France, Bulgaria, Finland, Estonia, Italy, Sri Lanka, Mexico. And I have done it with everything from high school students to middle managers in government agencies and senior executives of listed companies. I have also done it in all types of places: railway platforms, museums, in classrooms, factories, in changing rooms, walking between houses, by bicycle and in gigantic conference rooms – recently Google Street View.
All this boils down to the fact that education is, and always will be, intimately associated with culture. Country culture, age culture, subject culture, physical-local culture, industry culture, even teacher-dependent and student-dependent culture exists.
To name just a few micro-examples of large and important cultural differences to be aware of when doing “education”…
If you conduct training for companies in premises that are not well-cleaned, that business can completely collapse. But if you step into a “classroom” at some universities in the world, it can be a matter of course, both for the students and the teachers, that there may be empty beer bottles left from the day before.
In some classrooms in the world, it is a smoking ban, in others the opposite. There are, still, doctoral students for instance, not to mention professors and CEOs, in the world who regard smoking as part of an intellectual conversation – the “old philosophers culture” perhaps.
If you have tried some of the differences I now have mentioned you already knew this.
But, for an educator, or a learner for that matter, who has only tried more or less the same educational culture, it can almost be a shock to try a different educational culture. A bit like ending up “on the moon” actually.
This also explains why, for example, you can sometimes see primary school teachers, even professors, driving in the ditch, in total, if they try commercial education. It´s also why you can see a commercial educator driving in the ditch in total, for example in the meeting with a university student.
Then not to mention how far down in the ditch you can see students drive, if you put them in a learning-culture they are not used to.
All this happens because they have ended up “on the moon”, but forgot to see it that way.
How should you think if you want to succeed in another educational culture? Quite simple, at least when you just talk a little about it: you benefit from being more attentive than otherwise, not take things for granted, expect it to take a while before you find the right way and be yourself genuinely interested in learning “this culture”.
The digital world is also “a kind of culture”.
And now that more and more of the educational world is becoming digital, it may therefore be wise to look at the matter as if you yourself had ended up on the moon.
A digital world of education is not so much about new tools. Over the years, you have already learned to use laptops, Power Point, even Zoom, Google Classroom and Teams. You have experienced this type of “fine tuning” before. But the digital education world is much more different than that. Not to mention what it will become. The longer the digital development itself takes, the more the world of education will change.
How did Neil Armstrong, the lunar lander astronaut who said “a small step for a man, a big step for humanity” do? He prepared, well. And yet he did not know for sure how it would go once he had landed. For no one had done it before him and could tell how it was.
Had anyone been there before him, surely, he would have listened to the advice that person had to give. But still he had known that it would not be exactly the same way, when he himself would land.
In the end, Niel Armstrong most likely ended up having to trust others, and having to trust himself, and believing that everything would go well, anyway.
But he was curious, that’s why he managed.
His curiosity about the unexpected must, for himself, have been extremely important for him to actually succeed. On the way there, he learned completely new things. He understood the point in learning new things himself.
Neil Armstrong probably even started to think differently after a while. That is most likely what happen, if you visit the moon.
That Armstrong even dared…
And you are just about to outperform him!
P.S. If you have a friend that at this moment is working with education, or just using education, perhaps being a student of some kind…why not forward this post? It´s Corona-times at this moment and not that many people seem to care about “all of us” that sit alone and struggle with our laptops. But you care.