History is always teaching us. Imagine the walk up to the solid imposing doors of the Catholic Church where Martin Luther brought his flimsy piece of paper that began the Reformation. And a hammer. And a nail. The weight of hundreds of years of tradition and dogma had to have weighed on his mind as he made his modest stand – a piece of paper against the most powerful forces in the world. Literally, a piece of paper versus God.
Sometimes an individual can do great things, solve great problems and disrupt armies. Such was a wooden horse rolled into a square. So was Luther’s water and paste, fashioned into a square. Squares are always disrupted, their certainty is no match for the plasticity of new thought.
Technology keeps changing, but something about the human spirit stays the same. The spirit in all of us to learn and stretch beyond our boundaries, to see things anew will always be our hallmark and oddly, our challenge to new learning technologies.
The US Constitution has enshrined in it the Bill of Rights for all its citizens and I think learners should have the same affordances, especially when we consider that in the equation of learning and technology it is often technology that is given the most weight and attention. It’s like we all think that learning is the easy part and technology is the difficult part – the one that deserves our respect and admiration. Yes, cool is cool. I love cool stuff. I love cool technology that works for learners. But, I think we must realize that technology is finite, a possible solution to a problem or problems. But learners are an every deepening and widening mystery. One that some UX designers like to skip gaily over on their way to the perfect design – the “what that thing does now”. Can’t you see we are working here??
If you have read my writing in the past you know I continue to say: that is one dangerous perspective.
So what unalienable rights should learners have in this new age? Wait, let me get my hammer.
A Bill of Rights for Learners
In learning, just like any other social movement, a single learner banded together with others will change the world. A single piece of paper, a single digital list of comingled bits will be the start of a revolution. One might see it as a foolish demand from an individual. Or the start of a new reformation.
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