Wesch on Knowledgable

Thursday, January 8th, 2009

Michael Wesch of Kansas State has an article up on Academic Commons regarding new media and institutional impacts. Well worth the read. In learning institutions, how do we create “learning opportunity”:

To illustrate what I mean by subjectivities over subjects, I have created a list of subjectivities that I am trying to help students attain while learning the “subject” of anthropology:

* Our worldview is not natural and unquestionable, but culturally and historically specific.
* We are globally interconnected in ways we often do not realize.
* Different aspects of our lives and culture are connected and affect one another deeply.
* Our knowledge is always incomplete and open to revision.
* We are the creators of our world.
* Participation in the world is not a choice, only how we participate is our choice.

Even a quick scan of these subjectivities will reveal that they can only be learned, explored, and adopted through practice. We can’t “teach” them. We can only create environments in which the practices and perspectives are nourished, encouraged, or inspired (and therefore continually practiced).

My own experiments in this regard led to the creation the World Simulation, now the centerpiece of my Introduction to Cultural Anthropology course at Kansas State University. As the name implies, the world simulation is an activity in which we try to simulate the world. Of course, in order to simulate the world, we need to know everything we can about it. So while the course is set up much like a typical cultural anthropology course, moving through the same readings and topics, all of these learnings are ultimately focused around one big question, “How does the world work?”


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