Rediscovering Wonder
Debbie Donsky, EdD
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To speak to Will’s point, I think what we will find is that the walls that confine students, their voice and their learning–whether concrete or conceptual–will need to be opened up (so they don’t get burned down first!). This doesn’t mean circumventing organized learning altogether; rather, it means loosening the tacit control over their pathway (both academic and ultimately professional) that exists in the way we do “business” as educational institutions or function as parents. They have interests and, as you said, they are able to sense genuine/authentic needs and challenges more than ever before. Yes, we need to involve them by listening to them, but we also need to actively involve them in the design of educational opportunities that do or could exist.

With earlier ages, this could mean the introduction of age-diverse, peer-to-peer learning, but with later ages this could mean sourcing syllabus buildout or even course concept ideation. One unique characteristic of technological disruption, as we are seeing and experiencing it today, is the possibility for ‘learning anywhere’. Such a freedom should be allowed to evolve alongside the growing independence that naturally occurs within youth. As you mention about being influenced by artists we never meet, the same could be said about through whom and from where learning inspiration and growth transpires. This should be appreciated and encouraged, as it will most definitely empower learners to become their best selves. Agency matters.

I will be posting a piece on this in HigherEd Revolution next Monday, if you are interested to humor it some more.

Thank you, Debbie, for also tying in and breaking down the pretensions that exist around generational divide. In fact, collaboration must not only exist within generations but also across them. You may have more and/or different experiences than I, says the millennial, but that doesn’t necessarily dilute or refute my questions, curiosities or challenges that might present alternatives.