Collective Intelligence but not in the classroom!

As we see and understand more about the transitional moment we are living in, we are seeing technology made increasingly available across the grass roots – we are seeing teenagers from their bedrooms contributing significantly to cultural production. As Henry Jenkins explains below, we are seeing a convergence of media forms. Within this media convergence we see evidence of ‘collective intelligence’ or what has been called ‘the wisdom of a crowd’. In my own arts project, I have tried to explore this idea through a ‘Really Huge Poetry Project’ where coherent collective poems have been imagined, re-imagined, created and re-created by unknown contributers from anywhere. It has been quite amazing to see word art take shape which has such radical diversity within it or indeed on rarer occasions surprising agreement.

However, I am increasingly bewildered by the lack of ability or even deliberate resistance within society’s mainstream institutions to recognise this transitional moment and to re-shape to better serve and resource such a change. In a previous blog entitled ‘the way our kids speak’, Lessig looks at the law as one such institution not adapting with common sense to this cultural transition.  I am sure education is also failing to accept and adapt to this common sense.  Instead, the victorian model of ‘Factory learning’ is defended and perpetuated because those of us at the helm are products of the factory and that is the world we know.  It is our default language and as educators we consciously and unconsciously re-produce it.  We require that our children learn this default language through an exam system testing fact based knowledge instead of being willing to learn their language of collaboration, ‘mash up’ and ‘remix’.

Like Jenkins, I am  worried that Schools are in some ways locking out authentic learning.  We are limminting rational, common sense learning about the changed world our children inhabit, we are denying the necessary questions in a sad attempt to keep the world as we know it.  But the transition is.  And we are not preparing our children to function in a future world where we will be dependent on their leadership.  I hope to uncover more ideas as to how we reshape classrooms and curricula in the mainstream school system to build a sense of hope into our future and to bring change to our default settings so we better understand, facilitate and develop ‘how our kids speak’.

One such idea is blogged and open learning which is outlined a little in the post below but I would also like to develop some ideas around performing technologies.  For my last research study, I looked at performing technologies and digital collaboration within my context as a performer and multi-media artist.  I now wonder if such a project could be undertaken in the context of education and behind the often ‘closed gates’ of school.  More to follow as I think it.


About William Stopha

I am a performance poet and media artist who goes by the name of William Stopha. Also know as Chris by some. You can read, hear and watch my material at or You can also follow my shorter bullet thoughts at My artwork and research explore grass roots creativity, collaboration, the communication of alternative ideology and the politics of performance.
This entry was posted in Arts and Culture, Learning and Education, My research ideas, Stuff like philosophy, Stuff like politics. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Collective Intelligence but not in the classroom!

  1. Mike Richardson says:

    Really interseting Stuff Chris and bang on. I see you have Ken Robinsons contribution. There is also some good stuff in Yelland 2007 Shift to the Future. We need to start young.

  2. maria says:

    Hi there Sweden calling..
    I totally agree with you from Sweden that our schoolsystem is not “up to date”. I’m a teacher and I have four children. Last week my youngest had the swine flue but I am convinced that he learnt more at home – using his personal learning style and ways -then what he would have learnt in his normal “factory”.
    I am very pleased that you bring up these ideas and I will follow your blog with excitement!

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