These criticisms are enough for a lot of people, including teachers, to jump on the `deep learning` bandwagon. Deep learning is relevant, fun and engaging. (Deep learning reaches deep into the psyche.)
I think those who criticise a knowledge based curriculum have failed to ask `deep questions` about it. For instance, it may often be the case that students walk away from an exam and remember very little; but that does not mean it was a complete waste of time. For example, if you have understood the mathematics well enough to have passed the exam, any time in the future that you want to engage with mathematics again, you can easily be `reminded.` Having done the work and understood it, something remains in the brain, so that knowledge can be retrieved and built on. The same can be said of a foreign language and many other types of learning. Of course, in all of this, time is a factor, but that is beside the point.
Human beings just do not remember everything. That is the way it is and always has been. It is not a disaster. We only need to reflect on how much humanity has come to know, by writing facts and knowledge down, retrieving it, and passing it on to others, to appreciate that. Computers may store our memories - the good and the not so good - but it takes a human being, grounded in knowledge, to retrieve what is useful and make something out of it.
So what is deep learning and why is it relevant, fun and engaging?
I think the first thing we can say about it is that you cannot learn mathematics through deep learning. Role play, forming opinions and reaching a consensus in a group, may be relevant, fun and engaging, but it is no way to understand differential equations. However, if you are keen to deal with the global energy crisis (relevant), you certainly need to get a grip of calculus. Deep learning does not allow that. Deep learning by-passes cognition and rationality and heads straight for the emotions. The Global Storylines in a previous post give an example of that. Think about advertising which certainly does not appeal to rational consumers to make informed choices. On the contrary, the messages are subliminal: do you want to be beautiful, do you want to be powerful? That level of address is a form of deep learning. It cuts through cognition to engage with the primitive subconscious drives. It is that level of address which is being used on schoolchildren, worldwide, in the name of progressive education.
Then consider which parts of the curriculum are most imbued with deep learning. It is education for global citizenship, climate change and sustainable development. Then ask: why should these parts of the curriculum be expected to by-pass the rational mind? I think part of the answer to that is that there are a lot of big global players very interested in doing just that. Their power and influence will be consolidated if future generations swallow the messages. What will children not put up with in the future to save their planet? Power cuts, carbon taxes, reduced travel, population control, monitoring and surveillance?
Here is `New pedagogies for deep learning,`written partly by Michael Fullan who, we are told, advises policy makers and local leaders around the world. He believes that education needs to be radically rethought partly to stop the boredom. Supporting partners include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the British Council and the European Schoolnet. They are interested in how technology can assist `deep learning.` That is, learning which is relevant, fun and engaging. Now why wouldn`t they be?
They believe the world is in the midst of a massive transition to a new knowledge-based and globally-linked economy. On the contrary, we are in the midst of their massive push towards the changes they want for themselves. As for a knowledge based economy, what they are really talking about is Big Data. This is what excites them because the technology is there to profitably data-mine and micro-manage all of us, including our children. The PR about deep learning is the means by which all governments are expected to put their systems in place. It is the reason why deep learning by-passes cognition. We are not supposed to notice. We are just supposed to be excited about it. Shame on the teachers who fell for it. When computers take over learning, their days are numbered.
Here is part of the interview with Michael Fullan which you can engage with on the link below. Please note his connection to Tony Blair and his educational reforms, which Scotland, via Curriculum for Excellence, is still progressing. What does this say about Michael Russell, the Scottish Education Minister? Is he gormless or did he `sell out` and become a global puppet?
Interview with Michael Fullan
"21st learning skills have been around since 1990, so they`re old...The other limitation is that 21st century skills are too academic or cognitive. They`re missing two big pieces: character education and citizenship. Character education is the quality of perseverance, hard work, integrity, resilience, grit. Citizenship captures the qualities people need to be effective in a complex society."
"Every time we have learned something on scale it`s because we`ve created a living laboratory. This is my third laboratory of substance. The first was in England when Tony Blair focussed on literacy and numeracy ...."
Michael Fullan is currently one of four appointed experts set in place to reform the education system in Ontario.