My bosses, or one of them, expressed a desire for what they called "course scenarios,"
a function that is available in some Japanese software called webclass.
By that they mean a course with "depth", that one procedes into, being presented
with on thing after another to do, which once done allows one to go onto the next step.
This paradigm is probably what Martin has refers to as the "rats in the maze."
Moodle's all-on-the-surface (no depth) transparent layout is very intentional.
So, to recoop, why would anyone want "linking," "scenarios" "depth"?
1) A pointed out in the threads above, some computer scientists have a dream in which they hope they will be able to force students do homework like rats in a maze. That is what I and my bosses are after. Yes, very definately yes. I am proud my desire to make my students do homework like rats. In this desire, I would like to stand up and be counted. (okay, so I am a bit ashamed, otherwise I would not be so pushy).
But this is not only for economic reasons. I think that I used to be a constructivist (socialist?) that hated the rat's maze makers (right wing?) but now I am a sort of "wet" or liberal. I want to do both, interact and make mazes.
2) I think that there is something good about mazes. First off, it seems that my students like mazes. Some sort of masochistic tendency to want to be a rat in a maze, to want to play a game, to want to be surprised, to compete for the sake of it, to be controlled, and to gain points for their ability to get to the end? In defence of mazes, images of game theory and ritual, Nash, Lacan and esoteric Buddhism flit through my head.
Here below is a post I sent to DEOS about the possible need for "esoterisim" (scenarios = depth = concealment) in Education.
It seems to me that the purposes, that the greater part of school education is geared towards, is dumbing down or (more politely) "socialisation" and that students that are heavily dd-ed or socialised, get certain rewards, such as "good jobs," big cars and and desirable partners.
Now then, there may be some particularly hard nosed students that are able to accept that the "content" of what they are is relevant only as 'pumping iron for the brain,' so that then can prove how much they can brutalise themselves (or "train their mind"). However, most students want to believe that the learning content is useful, *not* just in the sense of being a means to get grades, jobs, and cars etc.
Hence educators are faced with a dilemma.
Leaving aside purist attempts to be Rudolf Stiener, swimming teachers, heavily vocationally oriented teachers and some language teachers; there are some teachers that are in the lucky position of imparting content that is useful to students but I would say that they are in the vast minority. Most of us are in the business of "socialising".
Accepting this fact, the dilemma for me is, in order to get students to study it seems necessary to *lie*. In order to help them to get all those consumer rewards (that most of them want), praise, and good grades, it seems necessary to lie, at least by omission, and encourage students to believe that the content they are learning will actually be useful to them.
This dilemma was brought home to me recently after auditing the class of a "very good", motivating teacher teacher. As well as having an excellent command of his subject, he also told his students how much he loved the subject and how much he wanted them to gain the same enjoyment that he gained from it. The students were very enthused and grade-wise, he gets very good results.
1) The small percentage of students likely to use and enjoy the content of what he was teaching are those that are like him, going to be teachers.
2) For most of the students the content is likely to be utterly useless to them.
However, by convincing the students that the content is useful/fun-to-non-teachers, he achieves what many educators, his superiors, and the students themselves view as good results. However, I don't think he was lying. He and many "good educators" seem to be oblivious to the fact that what they are teaching is only of use to people like themselves. They seem to be thinking "I am using and enjoying this, so the students can too," without considering the different circumstances that students are likely to face. My guess is that they are able to block the lives of their students from their minds, partly deliberately, and partly
What I am wondering is, is there a teaching theory or ethic, that recognises this dilemma, and looks at it full in the face.
I know of one: Esoteric Buddhism. It starts with the premise that it is necessary to teach pupils not-the-whole-truth, saving the the-whole-truth for later since fresh students would give up if you hit them with the big whammy at the beginning. I really feel that there is a need for a theory of "esoteric education."
In the extreme, an Esoteric theory of education might encourage teachers to tell their students that what they are learning is dreadfully important and so encourage them to study. Then finally, it might recommend that teachers get together with students, after the exams, and say "This was all pap, but you are going to go to an Ivy League school, and get fat pay checks, so let us celebrate." Doing this might be better than never telling them the whole-truth, in the manner of the "good teacher" mentioned above.
It might be argued that it is valuable, for the students, to never be told the truth of the inutility of what they are learning. Or that there is some sort of valuable epifany to be had when the penny drops and the student realises that the content of his or her studies had little utility other than to teachers. Even so, even if this is a theory book that should be kept out of reach of children, for educators at least.
Finally, on a more positive note, perhaps it is possible to have what I would call a theory of mythical education, where students too would be encouraged to engage in the process of equivocation, and make their own dreams and myths.
In this, more democratic approach, teachers would be encouraged to give students the techniques for learning, consistent with constructivist, "student centered" principles, including the ability to equivocate for themselves.
For example, consider the case of someone teaching French to a group of students that have little opportunity to use it. The teacher may
1) Overemphasise the opportunities to use and enjoy French blindly (the "good, enthusiastic teacher")
2) Overemphasise the opportunities to use and enjoy French, as a lie
3) Tell the students the boring truth about the lack oppotunities to speak French, that there are innumerable opportunities, but they are very unlikely to be realised. Then instruct the students in ways of overemphasising the likelihood of these opportunities materialising for themselves. There is nothing particularly insidious about this. It is sometimes called "Image training," and the techniques are varied. Just hanging a poster depicting France on ones wall, reading something about France, seeing some French films. All these things may be encouraged by "conventional" teachers, and this mythical education only puts a new spin on them. E.g. the purpose of as making a penpal abroad is not "to practice French" (the amount of practice will in fact be miniscule) but create the sentiment, the expectation, the myth that one will have the opportunity to practice French. The purpose of
this education would be to provide students with the mythmaking skills required to enable the students to dumb themselves down, in the recognition that his is what they really want to do.
This sort of theory needs to be founded on a philosophy which recognises the *utility* and healthiness of non-truth. I am thinking of Lacan's view of the mature self (as misrecognition) and Neitzsche's appraisal of truth
Friedrich Neitsche 1876 The Birth of Tradegy