Could my life be an indicator on whether there’s a chance to transform educators for 21st Century Learning? – Part 1 of 2

You may think this is nothing, but this is EVERYTHING : Parents and educators cannot possibly understand the urgency for this push towards a future of education without comprehending the disruptions brought by social media, the Information Age, globalization and the concepts of Revolutionary Wealth.

OK, so it’s a coincidence I love the anthropology part of economics (gee, what’s with the non-capitalization, English teacher?) and I was a student of advertising. So, OK, I heard the conversations in the corridor concerning the fallout of media because I was working with AC Nielsen Media back in 99 (thereabouts). So, OK, I got a taste of the convenience and potential of technology because I worked as a “not really here or there” curator and writer of sorts for the Communications Department of Technology Park Malaysia. I was researching and writing about technology, even when I really didn’t have a track-record as a technology and business incubator writer. But like what I was told by the person who hired me, no such person exists yet and if I’m willing to take whatever was on offer by the No-Budget committee to produce the magazine, the job was mine.

Working at TPM, I got a taste of and got addicted to broadband which pretty much blew away any resistance in adopting the technology in early 2000 when broadband prices were prohibitively high  for the average consumer. Leaving TPM, I got offered a job as a Content Editor by a tenant, one of the incubator companies. I didn’t have experience writing for the web and this was before writing for the web became an art by itself. Like most companies, they had a website and they needed someone to take care of it and make stuff appear on the website like magic.  I had to learn magic. The incantations I had to learn was called HTML and ftp. (Thank God for web2.0).

I wasn’t good at what I did at all, but I got to understand the potential of a website and the learned from the mistakes of the first generation of companies who pumped gold into “technology everyone else says is the next big thing.” I learned that it is never the tool itself but the design of the business behind it that uses the tool for leverage. This is all in hindsight and everything I’ve experienced is now passe and written to death. But it wasn’t always like this back in the late 90s and early 2000. My point is, I used to underestimate myself a lot until I realized……gawdang, there are more educators who don’t get it than there are those who do.

I’ve always felt, to a certain degree of certainty (cockiness?) that  my “failures”, or rather, refusal to stick to a job that no longer taught me anything was going to come in handy one day. I just never realized what an advantage the series of things in my life, from acquiring a respect for design experience and architecture by attending a college that had advertising, architecture, design all rolled into one to becoming a very informed ESL practitioner, was going to  inform my insights and opinions on the future of education.

If I’d wanted to go back further, I could go back to my radical writings as a student about schooling and how I was, like a spy, going to make the whole system  implode from the inside while I watch coolly from the outside…you know, like how James Bond walks coolly away while watching his enemies fight it out or burn in a collapsing building.

I also have my ideas about money, wealth and status to thank for reducing the pull of life that would’ve otherwise  trapped me in inertia. As a child I fantasized about how the world would work without money, prejudice and borders and how both “corporate” (this was in the 80s, imagine the rep corporations were getting back then with takeovers, corruptions, etc) and collective social good could be achieved in tandem. The idea of paycheck never interested me but the financial freedom to do what I believed in, did. So when capitalism and the Free economy became the new forces shaping the future that is now, it wasn’t hard at all to understand how it was going to work.

Given, there were many boats I missed between 97-end of 2008. I didn’t catch the economic stories of Microsoft, Google and Amazon and eBay. No idea at all what they were about and how they worked. Never even picked up on when Web 0.0 went to 1.0 and 2.0. By the time I really had time to be in front of a computer again, Windows 98 had become Windows XP on the way to becoming Windows Vista and the New York Times was free online. Gasps!!!!

Had I taken the traditional route to become an educator, attending Teacher Training College – would I have had the context I do now  having been in Advertising, Media Research, a Technology incubator park?  To what extent did my daydreams as a child, about how education should prepare humans for a transcendental narrative by redesigning the economic systems that bind us to the trappings of life, prepare me?

Part 2


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