Help me Popularize 5 Educational Phrases and Metaphors in 2013

There is little doubt that 2013 will be rich with new educational phrases and buzz words.  I would like to suggest five that I hope to see popularized. I’ve even suggested a Twitter hash tag that you can use for each. Every metaphor and term has limitations, and these are no different.  They do, however, direct us to some important considerations and conversations.  After reviewing my five suggestions, please add some of your own in the comment section.  Or, go ahead and try out one of the new hash tags on Twitter.  The only rules for more suggestions are:

1) It can’t already be a term or phrase that is mainstream.

2) It should have at least a measure of discussion-starting power.

3) You need to suggest a hash tag for your suggestion.

Here we go.

The Wild West Era of Education #wildwested

I thought that I had coined this term and then I heard Howard Garnder use in a YouTube video recently.  Oh, well.  I’m sure that it has more credibility coming from him anyway.  It is a great term to illustrate where we are in the field of education now.  It suggest a time of risk, the development of new communities, discovery, experimentation, adventure, people seeking fortune and treasure, a measure of rule-breaking, and new frontiers.  Doesn’t that sound a bit like what we are seeing in education right now?

Dis-integrating Technology #dis-integrate

There has been plenty of talk about integrating technology over the last decade.  Some even argued that you effectively integrate technology when it is a seamless experience, when you don’t even notice the technology.  There is still a time for that, but now is also a time to talk about dis-integrating technology.  Now that it has become seamless and unnoticeable in some environments, it is time to notice it, to dis-integrate it, to dissect, understand, and analyze it. Douglas Rushkoff’s new book Program or Be Programmed represents the spirit of this term.  It is a call to not only consider how to use technology, but in the words of Neal Postman and others, consider how technology uses and shapes us.  Our Media Ecology friends have much to teach us.  That is an important part of a 21st century education.  As Marshall McLuhan once noted, “First we build the tools, then they build us.”  It is essential that we give attention to understanding how the tools are building us.

22nd Century Teaching and Learning #22clearning

Since I just mentioned 21st century learning, now it is time to start thinking about 22nd century teaching and learning.  This is a time in the future, a time full of unknowns.  How do we prepare learners (and ourselves for the future unknown)?  If we are preparing people (and ourselves) for a world that does not yet exist, then why not use a term that denotes it.  So, how about if we retire 21st century learning, and replace it with a true, future-oriented phrase?

Un-cloistered (or post-monastic) Education #uncloistereded

The monastic life is one of order, quiet reflection, carefully planned schedules, and significant separation from the rest of the world.  Schooling often resembles that.  We have bells, rows, teachers seeking to keep students quiet and attentive, and a persistent problem with the transfer of knowledge from the classroom to real-world contexts.  We arrived at a stage in education when more public voices are calling for un-cloistered learning.  This can refer to Jay Cross’s explanation of Informal Learning, unschooling, homeschooling, open learning, self-directed learning, service learning, experiential learning…  You get the idea.  We are now seeing the value and power of blurring the lines between classroom and the rest of the world, even getting rid of the classroom model altogether in some cases.

Educational Malpractice #edmalpractice

The first time that I heard this was from Chris Dede at a Distance Learning Conference a few years ago.  The time is coming, he argued, when failing to use the current and best teaching and learning technologies will be a form of educational malpractice.  It will be like a medical professional who insists on using outdated technologies when we they have more effective ones at their disposal.  If technologies are tools (I’m not especially fond of that metaphor, but I’ll go with it for now), then it is important to use the best and most appropriate tool for the job.  Would you go to a brain surgeon who insisted on using an 18th century skull saw?  What is the equivalent in our education system today?  I fully support respecting and valuing diverse perspectives, but there does come a time when we need to acknowledge some limits to that respect…like when we are sitting in a surgeon’s (or teacher’s) office and he is preaching to us about the superiority of the time-tested skull saw over these new technological trends.  We can appreciate his nostalgia for the “good old days” while respectfully insisting that we put the well-being of the patient (learner) ahead of our own comfort and preferences.

There you have it.  Those are my five suggestions.  If you are willing, go ahead and try out one of the hash tags in your next Tweet.  Do you have some new ones to add?  Comment away!