I think this topic is worth exploring sufficiently that I’m devoting yet another blog post to it. I did some thinking about what it means for us as humans when more and more domains of our lives are turning into wicked learning environments. What are the implications for parents, educators, corporations trying to find, hire and nurture talents?
For parents, I think the good news is that some traditional domains like music, certain sports, and intellectual games (eg. chess) are going to remain as kind learning environments with fundamental rules that don’t change – where children can gain mastery with the right set of motivation and dedication towards practice. But to prepare them for the world of wicked learning environments requires you to continually support them through adversity they will encounter in life and teaching them principles of picking themselves back up and hacking away at problems that comes along, learning how to determined what and when to give up. The most important lesson to teach is really to help them recognise that there’s a full spectrum of different kinds of intelligence which matters and they need to be open-minded and open-hearted towards that diversity of ideas.
For educators, I’d think one have to learn to break free of that military-industrial complex that all education systems are entangled with. There’s just this desire towards having the education system and mainstream schools as cookie cutters; as products of a factory. People involved in management are going to deny it, and I do think they have good intentions – but the fact is that when you’re trying to do these things at a national level, with standardisation, with ‘scientific management’, you’re going to be saddled with things like KPIs, focusing on what can be counted rather than what really counts.
In education, you don’t need managers, you need community organisers; you need people who bring everyone together, get them to share and practice their ideas, and then exchange with one another, persuade each other to adopt good attributes, refine and sharpen one another. It is not a competition, it is a community, and the objective is not to be better than one another but to be better as a whole.
How about corporations? There’s no easy answers but I think it boils down again to recognising what the corporation is really after. If it’s profits, then you will forever be just trying to optimise it according to the rules of the day, you’ll be trying to compete in the kind learning environments and commoditise things. But if serving the customer is at the fore, where the rules of the game to maximise profit for the hour does not matter, then you will become the one who push everyone into a wicked learning environment. And that can be a great thing.
Then you’ll be one who don’t hire experts. You’ll be someone who hire professionals, newbies, mavericks – and it doesn’t matter because you’ll be doing something new. You won’t be doing silly competitor analysis because in the category of one, there’s no competitors. Then you’re always going to win.