What's the Learning in 21st Century Learning?

Preparing an abstract for a presentation at SFU’s Ed. Summer Institute, and have been inspired by Diskurse des Lernens(Discourses of Learning) by Käte Mayer-Drawe. Here’s my translation of a page from the introduction:

Learning begins… where and when that which is familiar loses its utility and that which is new is not yet useful: “when the old world is, so to say, abandoned, and a new one does not yet exist” (Mead). Its path leads not from shadows to the light; instead it brings one into the twilight, at a threshold between no longer and not yet. From a pedagogical perspective and in the strictest sense, learning is an experience. This is the central thesis of this book. As simple as this may sound, its implications are both subversive and anachronistic. Disruptions, difficulties and other inadequacies are unpopular, because frictionless, high-speed accommodation within a stress-free atmosphere is the ideal of our time; and in this context, a pedagogical theory of learning that focuses on inefficient uncertainties can have particular meaning. In a time where [instructional] technologies are used for the production of members of a globalized society, there is no room for any lack or absence. Accumulation is the decisive keyword; accommodation is the successful action.

It is the dictatorship of the machine which also determines our view of learning. Machines generally have nothing to gain when they enter into difficulties. Difficulties in this sense are only interruptions which must be eliminated. Maturana and Varela speak of perturbations, which bring about or resolve change, and which are themselves “determined by the structure of the perturbating system.” The structure of the organism determines what happens. Indeed, we are not absolutely different from machines, but we diverge decisively from them in that we profit from indeterminacy and that difficulty and loss actually makes us more knowledgeable. We know of the pain of thinking. “The unthought hurts because we’re comfortable in what’s already thought” (Lyotard, The Inhuman, p. 20). (Mayer-Drawe, 2008, p. 15).

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