Friday, July 15, 2005

Thinking, Learning and Futures

Here are some of the key ideas I got from the presenters at this conference.

Thinking is about learning. Piaget said “Intelligence is knowing what to do when you don't know what to do.” (Claxton)

We now have fourth-generation theories on thinking/learning. Learning dispositions are transferable from one context to another and are transdisciplinary (Claxton).

We need to educate for the unknown by providing powerful conceptual systems, global perspectives and coherent big picture stories (Perkins, Eckersley, Olson, Slaughter).

‘Knowledge’ is problematic because it is increasing rapidly, is context fixated and for most people it is full of misconceptions (Perkins, Senge, Slaughter). Knowledge is a social phenomenon (Senge).

Local and global challenges are pressing and we require empowered positive thinkers capable of cross disciplinary synthesis, systems thinking, collaboration and shared intelligence (Eckersley, Moran, Ritchhard, Olson, Slaughter). We are beyond simplistic solutions (Moran, Senge, Eckersley).

Psychological and social well-being (mental, emotional, spiritual) are important for deep thinking and learning (Wood, Eckersley, Senge, Slaughter).

Spirituality (not religion) is a key emerging transformation of the late 20th/early 21st centuries (Senge, Eckersley, Olson).

Personal and social foresight requires a level of futures literacy as well as futures tools, methodologies and strategies (Slaughter).

Changes in Australian values, assumptions and access to ICT are leading to 'citizen centered' democracy where a market and economic forces are no longer the primary drivers in government and the public service bureaucracy. We need multidisciplinary risk-taking thinkers (Moran).

We need to be explicit about our assumptions and world views because they underpin our thinking and colour our perceptions (Senge, Olson, Slaughter, Varey). Memes and value systems are crucial factors in thinking, learning and the envisioning of desired personal and world futures (Barber, Perkins, Slaughter, Varey, Janson).

The world is not in crisis - our worldviews are (Varey). Our languages (eg mother tongue, bilingual, mathematical...) also filter our experiences, influence our comprehension and affect our sense of morality and hope (Gupta).

Thinking, learning and inquiry are important both within disciplines (ways of knowing and inquiry) and across disciplines (Perkins). What we teach is just as important as how we teach (Perkins).

We need to teach problem-prevention as much as problem-solving (Wood, Perkins). We need both individual and collective thinking - multiple intelligences and shared intelligence (Ritchhard, Wood, Moran). And collective creativity and inspiration (Mol).

With the advent of new 21st-century technologies individuals have access to knowledge and resources that can have an enormous detrimental impact on local and global communities. We need ethical understanding and spiritual perspectives (Olson, Slaughter).

Marcus Barber - Swinburne
Guy Claxton – Bristol University, UK
Art Costa – California State University, Habits of Mind, USA
Richard Eckersley – National Centre for Epidemiology & Population, ANU, Australia
Sunetra Gupta – Mathematician, epidemiologist and author, Oxford University, UK
Jan Jansen - Sweden
Terry Moran - Secretary, Victoria Department of Premier and Cabinet, Australia
Jan Mol - Ad!dict Creative Lab - Brussels
Molly Olson - Eco Futures Australia, US Gov Advisor on Sustainability
David Perkins – Harvard, USA
Ron Ritchhard – Harvard, USA
Peter Senge – Society for Organisational Learning, USA
Richard Slaughter - Foresight International, Swinburne, Australia
Fiona Wood – McComb Foundation and Australian of the Year
Will Varey - Integral theorist, Australia

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