The speech we are missing

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice-cream. A great song-title, published already 1927. Sometimes we scream to get things. But sometimes we also scream in order to avoid things. Then we start screaming towards each other. How to solve that fight? What speech can make us ready for a new, digital, educational world?

Anyone who has been to dinner with acquaintances, or just at a regular physical work-meeting, or attended a physical education, already knows: sometimes the deep, interactive, socially interesting meeting does not arise.

It’s not the food or the table’s fault if a dinner gets bad. Sometimes not even the fault of the host couple and the other guests either.

Maybe things just did not “click”. Maybe not in the same mood. Or simply the colleagues, or the teacher and the others present were not the “right ones”. Or, you yourself were the one who was “wrong”.

Why, really, this ongoing discussion about the “socially problematic” of running education online?

The conditions may have been perfect, but the implementation itself was wrong.

I listened to a pod on education just now, Episode 354 of Advancing Online Education (25 March 2021), with a person I have always been impressed with; Kevin Kelly. Kelly is the man behind The Wired. The man who has written the book What technology wants. The man who’s seen things long before many of us.

But I just got confused and didn’t understand anything.

A large part of all the world’s couples today find each other online – in some cases, marriages even become stronger by it. Isn´t love, if anything, a “complicated product”?

The pod was about his new book, Advancing online teaching. Both the book, and the conversation in the pod, revolves around his fascination that it is actually possible, for real, to actually create deep bonds and have knowledge-developing conversations in education done online.

But it’s, really, quite obvious, isn’t it?

-> How to make online-education gazillion times more social, interactive and live than off-line-education ever can be

Is it Covid that got us here? Or is it just our dreams of life “from the past”? Could it be a grieving process that’s really going on?

Maybe that’s just the way it is.

Is it about sorrow?

Is that what the ongoing discussion about digital education vs the old way of doing it really is about?

The “Five stages of grief” is a model that is both simple and blunt, therefore also rightly dismissed by some researchers. Nevertheless, it´s a model that I myself have often benefited from in recent years, especially when digitalisation and its consequences have come up. But normally the model is about grief, for example for a loved one. It was developed by a psychiatrist, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, already 1969.

Stage 1. Denial. We deny what happened. We don’t admit what has happened.

Stage 2. Anger. We get angry about what’s happened. We´d be happy to attack it during this phase.

Stage 3. Bargaining. Not ready to accept, trying to negotiate our way through by finding a middle ground.

Stage 4. Depression. We’ll be quiet, closing down mentally.

Stage 5. Acceptance. We’re ready to move on.

Sorrow is not a relay race.

However, it is important, not to see it as a relay race. Instead of step after step, we commute back and forth, and finally land in “Acceptance”.

That this is the case, we all know who has met a person who is grieving for a loved one. One minute we’re crying deeply. Next minute we might laugh a little. Then cry again. Then we dream our way back. All of a sudden, we then want to clear out the old clothes and start moving on. And then stop and cry again for a while.

Finally we have accepted the death and are starting to move on in life. We just have to give it some time.

Is this perhaps just how we should look at the now increasingly strong digitalisation process in the world of education and the obsession about “how good it was before”?

Are we not yet quite ready to move on? We don’t want to let go of what was. It’s safe.

I have an acquaintance who works with change management in companies and who also likes this model. He has used it systematically in customers.

Sometimes we can’t skip mourning if we want to move on.

One of his most successful projects was when they buried, literally, a product to be discontinued, just before a replacement was launched. The old product was a trustee of the company. A lot of people had invested their lives in it. So, in order to move forward, a funeral was arranged, literally, for it.

The speech that the manager gave during the grave beer, the employees of the company still remember today.

The ways of dealing with deeply emotional things should not be laughed at. If we do, we don’t know how deeply difficult a grieving process can be.

It all helped the company move forward. It helped them let go. Then they moved on, but without a constant dwelling discussion that it had been “better in the past.”

The burial tradition is different depending on where on the globe we are. It is a religious thing. But grief is not.

It’s never better before, and we know it. And even if it was, we can’t go back to then. We have to move on. What was then was then and what is now is now.

Digital education is simply a new, different, world.

Could it now be time we arranged a nice funeral, with flowers and everything, with cakes and stuff, and not least, funeral beer… and a beautiful, emotionally deep, speech… for the old form of running education?

Well, I don’t know what coffins we’re going to have, but it should be a nice one. And the speech, better be good.

A lot of the teachers existing at this moment have invested their life in the old way of teaching. Show them respect.

It is absolutely nothing strange to claim that digital education today can beat the old classroom teaching.

It all depends on how we do it.

Feel free to spread this post. It could come in handy.

There will be at least as much good, as bad, e-learning in the future as there used to be good, and bad, classroom teaching in the past. But that does not prevent us from the fact that digitalisation is now changing the world of education.

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