Friday, 18 July 2014

The best blog on adult education 

There is a distinct lack of blogs on adult-education and learning in NZ.  At the end of this post are some links to a fantastic blog that meets the needs of two audiences.  The first is the adult who just wants to learn something, anything, just because it is interesting.  The second is for people who work within education and want to know what's going to happen before it happens to them - an ear to the ground so to speak.    

But first a tiny intro to set the scene.

The war in education

There are two competing paradigms of education currently fighting each other across the world.  The first is the paradigm of life-long learning.  In this paradigm of education you are never 'finished' with education, you simply continue to develop specific and diverse skills in response to ever changing demands.  In this paradigm you continue to learn for your entire life.  Your education never ends.  You will never have 'all' the skills because of constant change.  And that's normal- and no problem, because you just go get them.  Life is one big learning journey.

The second, and older, paradigm is that of 'meritocracy' in which you become 'complete' when you graduate from school (or University).  In this paradigm you learn as much as your ability will enable.  Those with more ability or intellect will travel further up the educational pathway.  Those with less will drop out earlier.  If you don't have certain skills in this paradigm it suggests you lack the ability.  For example, if you are struggling with maths in 5th form the advice may be:

"Well, just drop it, you're clearly not going to be a mathematician right?"

In other words - you have reached your limit, so no point pressing on.

Within this paradigm some people are actively encouraged to learn: "You should continue to take maths next year- you are really good at it", while others are actively discouraged from continuing; "Perhaps this academic thing is not for you, why don't you train for a trade or get a job and start making some money?"

Educational zombies

Here is the kicker - The second paradigm is dead, dead, dead.  Yet like a zombie that continues to move after death, this paradigm continues to wander the land looking for victims.  In fact, it may be more dangerous in the short term because you can no longer reason with it.

In fact the Governments' own policies confuse the paradigms and end up feeding the zombies while investing in new adult growth.  What we get in the educational environment is a bit of a zombie wasteland - Lots of zombie institutions barely functioning based on hard wired habit and limbic system response - just zombieing (new word?) through well rehearsed movements.  Meanwhile the new and worthwhile players scurry around trying to survive long enough to grow and establish themselves.

The awesome news for you

The good news is this, as the first paradigm declines, your schooling less and less defines who you are. It does not define your potential, your skills, your intellect, or anything at all.  Go and learn the stuff you are interested in - if you have never studied - go and do it!  Do it for the fun of it.  You are never too old.  There is a 70 year old man in NZ who left school at 14, and has just finished his second PhD.  He re-entered study at 65.  He just loves it for its own sake.

Graeme Smith and ALEC

The point of this post is to point you toward the best blog on adult education in NZ.  Written by Graeme Smith who runs a successful and innovative adult education business (the first paradigm).  The blog is inspiring and interesting - and doesn't stick to the old model of education.  I find Graeme refreshing.  He operates within and around the educational zombies and as such views things with a unique and insightful perspective.  If you want an insight into the future of education, his blog is a must.

If you are an adult or parent, and interested in learning check this site out.  Or, if you work in education, this site is like having your ear to the ground.

This link takes you to the site:

These are some of my favorite Graeme posts in no particular order.

If you are interested in writing short stories (note:  the competition will be back next year).

Checking on burnout (Designed for working in education but applicable to any job working with people)

Minecraft taught my kids everything they needed to know about life

Will software eat teachers?

Graeme's take on lifelong learning


  1. Trust me... it's a mutual admiration fan club...! Thanks for the promo and back links...

  2. I tried to find your post on robots teaching in classes? It was maybe one and a half years ago?