I like to be on the cutting-edge of things. To be an effective leader, one must understand the trends of today and follow them through to see what these trends might look like 10 years from now and then again see things 100 years from now. An effective leader will consider how their practices will guide their students ten years from now. With this preface, I ask the question, “What is coming after postmodernism?”
First, a brief look at postmodernism. The philosophy of postmodernism deals with the complex issue of language. Philosphers for the last few hundred years have begun looking at how prior knowledge affects our reading of the materials in front of us. Theorists began noticing that the way we interpret texts seems very bound up in the way that we understand the world. We all come with our particular bias to a document and they suggested that we must admit this bias. As a result, others took this theory to the point of postmodernism which suggests that truth largely eludes us. We can’t know truth because each of us constructs our truth around us in an individual way.
This is postmodernism in a nutshell. What is coming next? We must first consider the virtually unlimited capacity of the internet and social networking and the effect that it will have on education. Watch this video:
Now consider what implications the video has for education. Postmodernism, the idea that truth is elusive and every person must construct their own truth, will inevitably be replaced by what I refer to as color-constructed truth. I can only explain this by way of example. In the future, my projection is that all work will be done online. A student might write an essay and then each person will comment on that essay using new programs like textflow. Program like textflow allow each person to comment on a document created and then to be sent back to the original author. The author can then choose to include or reject these comments in their papers. If you think of each of these comments as additions or subtractions from a paper and think of each other author as a color, you find that each person’s truth is constructed within community with each color a part of that student’s work.
I project work will be done within this color-constructed truth model within fifteen to twenty years. Wiki’s are the beginning of this technology, and more evolved wiki’s will be created within two to three years that allow students to edit one another’s work cross-continentally in real time. Indeed, the beta programs have already come out for many of these programs. For instance, in my high school science classes we conducted experiments, wrote up our findings in a quadrille notebook, and turned them in for a grade. A simple entry might have an hypothesis, a discussion of the experiment and the steps within the experiment, the data, and then the outcome. In a color-constructed truth model, a teacher would input their hypothesis into a wiki database, and then students, using their color and IP address, would input information adding to the hypothesis or beginning new paragraphs where they disagree with or insert a qualifier. Students are required to make the hypothesis paragraph flow together. They are required to construct the hypothesis together and to edit it together until they have come to a democratic decision. Students maintian some individuality in this process, but their thoughts are absorbed into the classroom community.
In the same way, analyzing the results of data used to be graphed in a quadrille notebook and analyzed for patterns, but in today’s wiki world, the same data can be entered in a classroom data table in real time and analyzed statistically for variations and outliers. Statistics will be the new mothermath in this new color-constructed truth model. The theoretical maths will still have a major place to help us make sense of the statistics, but statistics that used to be impossibly large are becoming quite manageable in a world with unlimited amounts of data. It is possible to have a district at all the high schools do the same experiment and to put all the data from the experiment into one wiki where the data can be analyzed on a meta-level. These types of meta-level analyses will become more normal in research at the graduate level and will also trickle down to high school and elementary education.