Let’s just see what happens…
I knew something was irking me, but it has taken ages for it to crystalise into an actual thought that I can put words to. Here’s the thought:
I think that purposefulness has become so revered by society that we have lost serendipity. This is tragic and needs redressed.
And I think it will naturally be redressed. Maybe we are at the nadir of the purposefulness slough. Here’s hoping…
Or maybe it’s just me.
First of all, I have to confess that I used to be guilty of not valuing serendipity. Many blog posts ago, I was moaning about the pointlessness of the space shuttle programme and one of my readers, Cat, pointed out that without space travel, we may never have stumbled upon various completely useful inventions. Tin foil, for example. And many other things.
Necessity, as we know, is the mother of invention. But if we stay within ‘safe’ and ‘known’ things, then there is no necessity, therefore there is no invention.
What drives me nuts is this:
In education, we plan what we learn. We literally have ‘learning intentions’. We know what we hope to learn. Before we even begin we can have ‘success criteria’; we know what things will ‘look like’ when we have learned a thing.
There’s the irony.
If we know what it is we hope to learn, there is an assumption somewhere in there that elements of the learning have already been done by someone – perhaps the teacher, perhaps the experts. The rest of us, the “learners” are simply following the pioneers through to join them at the end of learning.
What about the learning that can’t be planned? Is it even getting done any more?
How often in the past were great ideas born about of nothing other than randomness? When the floating soap or the plummeting apple were picked up and a thought found an articulation – these moments were not planned. But we learned.
When we set off to the Deerstalker, someone remarked something along the lines of, “It won’t be long now until we know what the stories will be from this trip!” How exciting for us to know that there was no way we could know what would happen to any one of us, but that by going on the trip, we would find out – something – we would learn things – but we wouldn’t know what we would learn until we had learned it.
Perhaps the best learning intention is to simply to intend to learn. Maybe not even that – maybe the best learning intention is to try out random stuff and see what happens.
To decide in advance what kind of learning you want to undertake and what success in that field would ‘look like’ is not only dull and derivative, it shuts down openness and even “luck”; it precludes valuable byproducts crystalising at the periphery.