Guy Van Belle on 31 Oct 2000 16:50:47 -0000

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Re: <nettime> learning and networks


Mr. Hopkins is setting out on a very slippery path. In a way the whole
description + critique is only partially relevant, acknowledging the fact
that we are not in 1990 today but - that is what my computer says - 2000. 

What do I mean by this? 
1. after more than 10 years of constructivism in education, you can hardly
maintain that there is no "learning-by-doing" happening on a large scale,
same goes for multimedia in education, and even for the abundance of
network + computing activities in education nowadays
2. cultural organisations have mostly set up educational activities
because of policy pressures, and to prove the social validity of
non-quantifiable things like art + culture, and the aim has always been to
continue organising cultural productions and not to improve learning,
knowledge and communication
3. literacy debates since the '80s have moved into an impasse - parallell
to the sad post-modernist babble in the '90s: the purpose of setting up
the discussions was a very right-winged conservative political agenda that
probably succeeded in opposing the more experimental movements in art,
culture and education, and this opposition is still continuing
4. the institutionalisation and capitalisation of the whole western
educational and cultural field (these 2 fields add up to almost av. 60-70%
of the national return, including wages, investments, private and
governmental funding, ...)
has led to a much sharper division between learning within institutions
and informal learning youngsters are stting up outside these institutions:
in alternative networks (home, among friends, clubs, ...); the continuing
institutional attack on this informal learning in order to get control
over content and finances is alarmingly increasing over the last years,
and is now even a hot academic and political item, only to get an even
larger economical spread, and handy enough it brings us back to point 3
(that is where they all do drugs and have sex, no? and they should be
learning multimedia tsk tsk tsk...) and point 2 as well ... Big Brother
Europa is looking for ways to sneak in ... 

Ah!, and is really the metaphore of printed vs. electronic media still
viable? I don't think so! The whole text-based instruction my still be on
the surface but then over the last years, when I read this bullshit, next
thing is that there is something about expensive high-speed networks
between big money cities following....

> cultural networks focus single-mindedly on fiscal and structural 
> issues, there is a real danger that their long-term vitality may be
> jeopardized
Maybe Mr. Hopkins has been for too long in too large projects, overfunded
and set up out of the blue. My experience is that in the (real) field lots
of small projects are done by small groups, without funding and without
attempting to get (inter)national coverage. Of course, if you first build
an organisational structure, and then want to keep this alive by doing
projects, my idea is that this is the old odd capitalist way, tested out
in the post-colonial era in order to keep most of the 2% of development
aid within the country - and identical to precisely the critique that has
been formulated in Mr. Hopkins' text... 

> Modernist education models are not at all adequate or 
> even desirable when mapped into the flat social structure of a 
> network
hoho, this is a scam! John Dewey was he a modernist? or Vygotsky and
OK then, thy actually were more aware of what transformation and natural
learning than Mr. Hopkins, esp. good old Vygotsky - he said a lot about
socio-cultural models and networks and learning, and made Piaget formulate
corrections on his own theories. 
Even further in the text, what is being suggested reflects a rather
inadequate image of what education nowadays is dealing with. Innovation
and learning has been concentrating for half a century precisely on what
Mr. Hopkins claims to be absent! Back to your schoolbooks, Mr. Hopkins,
and you will see how different they are from these nowadays...

Now, I do understand that each item is rather complex to dive into, and
would demand a larger description, but it is Mr. Hopkins who started this
quick and dirty job with describing general truths in too few paragraphs!
So, similar to Mr. Hopkins I think that there are fundamental things that
are wrong with educational and cultural institutions/organisations. But
the difference is that I don't want to belong to the sort of people that
fight water with even more water. 
What I am saying is... 
Mr. Hopkins is very suspect when he calls for a challenge and response
like: "in the coming months they formulate new ways that they can share
the collective knowledge and wisdom they have gained". This recalls the
former literacy debates. And certainly, who-ever tries to do this, is
contributing to the further institutionalisation of what informal
educational and artistic networks are doing. 

Maybe I wouldn't be far from the truth to suspect the participants in this
to line up for their brand new jobs: funded by the pan-nationalistic
european state maybe? And maybe a european cultural backbone needs to
prove its ethics by acquiring educational credibility prior to


ps. this is not a personal attack on 
Mr. Hopkins (only), only on the ideas
expressed in the text underneath... 

On Mon, 30 Oct 2000, John Hopkins wrote:

> Following is an article to be published in the upcoming issue of 
> x-change from Riga's re-lab...
> ________________________________________________________
> "learning and networks"
> by John Hopkins

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