From
being a teacher for so many years to act student for a while is illuminating
the power relationship often lost in transaction while things are done ”as
always”. In my last blog post I lifted the issues of the historical foundations
of education providing an example in a film clip. Reading some articles on
future education and problem-based learning (PBL) pedagogics it seems as if we
are in a junction where we need to expect change, but on what premises is less
clear. ”History will tell” or ”Future will tell” are two options we are meant
to believe exist.

In a
draft version of an article by Maggie Savin-Baden (2014) we are familiarised
with a mapping of various consteallations of PBL-methods well reasoned in their
theoretical and practical foundations. By using this approach to prepare
ourselves for the future pedagogical challenges we might want to make a choice
of category and deal with the pedagogical challenges well grounded within a
single or a combination of constellations. Nothing wrong in that and well in
”tact” (Cockburn, 1998, from Savin-Baden 2014:5) with what is expected from us
as academics. The idea of tact is, I would argue, a cultural explanation to how
to behave well within a known power relationship. History will tell what to do.

I am
not very tactful I must admit. Barnett and Coates’ (2002, from Savin-Baden
2014:12) higlights something very interesting regarding educational identities
by lifting an issue of ”self” as one of three identity domains (knowledge,
action and self). The ”knowledge” domain is always present, while it is more
contested if the other two are. The authors’ argue that more profession
oriented a curriculim is, the more integration between the three. From a
pedagog’s perspective, a profession in itself, it is hard to argue anything but
integration. Taking a student perspective, studying a subject asks for an
opportunity to develop its identity, ”self”, on terms not necessarily
controlled by those competencies (knowledge domain) in control at the moment.
The acceptance of not in ”tact” is required as for a ”Future will tell”
perspective of pedagogics. Savin-Baden (ibid) argues for liquid learning as
”charac­terised by emancipation, reflexivity, and flexibility so that knowledge
and knowledge boundaries are seen as contestable and always on the move.” (p14)
This would be to rewrite the music, not just the lyrics, as to how students
engage and connect to their studies. Former ideas for ”tact” would thus be
contested.

”Future
will tell” is highligthed by Megan and Huijser (2015) in their wish to take
control by using PBL as a device of challenging powerful educational domains
through empowering students and teachers. It is an interesting approach, but it
falls back on a human-ecological theory that is not new, and hard to contest,
like most system theory in being verified by itself (that was unfair, but good
for my argument). Still it is good to adhere that when we change things in the
classroom, whatever it starts from, there will be unexpected changes, many of
them hard to foresee. In the critique of an all-in-one explanation of the
setting like presented above, and in so making ”Future will tell” into a
”History will tell”, I would like to argue for a less overarching approach to
learn about how education might work. My example is a middle-range well
grounded theory of why students follow an online course and why they might drop
out. Helen Scott (2007) explains the choices made by students to whether
continue their studies or not from how it connected to their daily lives. Less
curriculum focus, more social life focus, or in other words, how well their
studies connected with their everyday lives. This is partly in line with Megan
and Huijser’s (2015) human-ecological idea, but with an important difference,
the grounded character of the main concern, namely the students and their
lives.

It
is easy to get stuck in our traits of power relationships at work regardless of
if we so wish or not. Thus in its consequences we instrumentalize the pedagogical challenge for the future by resting it in the past through our boundaries of “tact”.

Savin-Baden,
M. (2014). Using problem-based learning: New constellations for the 21st
century. Journal on Excel­lence in College Teaching, 25(3 & 4), x-x.

Megan Y. C. A. Kek and Henk
Huijser (2015). 21st Century Skills: Problem Based Learning and the University
of the Future. Third 21st CAF Conference at Harvard,
in Boston, USA. September 2015, Vol. 6, No. 1

Scott,
H. (2007). The temporal integration of connected study into a structured life.
The Grounded Theory Review Vol. 6, No. 2