Atomic Enlightened Gadflies

By | October 29, 2011

When I first read Michael Feldstein’s post about DS106: Can Enlightenment Scale, I sincerely believed that when he used the term gadfly he actually meant it as a compliment.


cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by t_buchtele

In teacher’s college, we were asked to write a philosophy of education statement. I kid you not, this was mine:

I want to be a gadfly to help awaken the “slow and dimwitted horse”, to question the status quo, to help change the education system.

I guess the thing about DS106 (to me) is that it does not purport to be an overarching answer to everything but an invitation to start asking questions through artistic inquiry.

Feldstein writes, “I’m looking for a large enough lever to move the world” and I immediately remembered Zack Dowell’s early post about DS106 and scalability: We’re Chained to the World, and We All Gotta Pull….

While it may seem like the open participants are zealots (#4LIFE!!!), there is a lot of examination going on. The radio helped make that reflection even more fluid. It served as an open channel for ongoing external speech problem solving with multiple channels for feedback.

Hey, I work at a university, NO, of course, I don’t think we shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater and “walk away from a structure that has done good for over a thousand years”. I do think we owe it to ourselves to notice the gadflies disturbing the status quo and look for new solutions to old buildings.

If Plato wrote that Socrates considered himself a gadfly I dare say Jim Groom et al are in good company.

Critical reflection is scalable. Enlightened gadflies can multiply as fast as good ideas.


Do Atoms Scale? cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by giulia.forsythe

7 thoughts on “Atomic Enlightened Gadflies

  1. Giulia Post author

    Thanks, David. I’m honoured to have you a part of my enlightenment network.

  2. Alan Levine

    Gadflies don’t swarm around dull things, eh? I’d rather be near that source of light/hear.

    Zack’s post on being chained is prophetic given how darn early it was in the ds106 cycle: ” A community of learners takes tools and makes them more than they are, or rather makes them exactly what they are: tools. The learning takes place in and around them.” BINGO!

    and “DS106 is something of a meta course” To me it has scaled a wave of creativity and community in less than a year.

    “4liffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffe” is the hum of the gadflies. Love it.

  3. scottlo

    Thank you for bringing Michael Feldstein’s important questions and critiques to my attention. Both your blog post and his have got my little mind sparking. As I don’t feel up to the task of writing intelligibly on these matters, I decided to make a little video replay for those daring enough to spare six minutes.

    Cogdog tells me that pasting the YouTube URL will make the thing embed. We shall see:

    http://youtu.be/fDKG0kEIlJY

  4. CogDog

    Alas i was wrong, Scottlo! But enjoyed seeing your video comments.i though giant lizards scale!

  5. Ben

    Such an intriguing philosophy of education…I dare say if you had shared that in one of my pre-service teaching courses many people in the room might have hung you by your toes in much the same way they wanted to for the person who shared they “wanted to be in education, so they could write policy”. So many in the pre-service field are enamored with their own educational experiences, that to upend them would be tantamount to upending their own memories.

    I’m curious, how do you ensure that you’re following this philosophy, and that someone in pre-service training right now isn’t considering the same about what it is that someone in your position is doing?

  6. Giulia Post author

    @Ben, when I was in teacher’s college I framed my philosophy of education within the context of K12, since that was where I was getting my accreditation.
    I don’t work with K12 that much at all anymore; mostly very indirectly through faculty who teach in the pre-service. That said- if there is someone in pre-service considering change, I would wholeheartedly welcome them. You have no idea (or perhaps you do) how often I try and implement a change or try something new and someone cites a policy as reasoning why this should not happen. If I ask for rationale about said policy, I am often met with “because that’s the policy”- this recursive rule-following mindset is the death of critical thinking.
    I’m not saying we shouldn’t have rules or shouldn’t follow them. I’m saying we should always be looking at the reason behind the rule and be flexible in our thinking to allow modifications to the rules if the conditions for which they were set no longer apply.
    I’ll summarize with another misquote of Socrates for my own purposes: We should always question _why_. The unexamined education system is not worth our funding.

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