Unlearning leadership in the conceptual age

McWilliam, Erica L. (2014) Unlearning leadership in the conceptual age. ACEL Monograph Series, 51. The Australian Council for Educational Leaders (ACEL), Sydney, NSW.

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"We live in times in which unlearning has become as important as learning. Dan Pink has called these times the Conceptual Age,i to distinguish them from the Knowledge/Information Age in which many of us were born and educated. Before the current Conceptual Age, the core business of learning was the routine accessing of information to solve routine problems, so there was real value in retaining and reusing the templates taught to us at schools and universities. What is different about the Conceptual Age is that it is characterised by new cultural forms and modes of consumption that require us to unlearn our Knowledge/Information Age habits to live well in our less predictable social world. The ‘correct’ way to write, for example, is no longer ‘correct’ if communicating by hypertext rather than by essay or letter. And who would bother with an essay or a letter or indeed a pen these days? Whether or not we agree that the Conceptual Age, amounts to the first real generation gap since rock and roll, as Ken Robinson claims,ii it certainly makes unique demands of educators, just as it makes unique demands of the systems, strategies and sustainability of organisations. Foremost among these demands, according to innovation analyst Charlie Leadbeater,iii is to unlearn the idea that we are becoming a more knowledgeable society with each new generation. If knowing means being intimately familiar with the knowledge embedded in the technologies we use in our daily lives, then, Leadbeater says, we have never been more ignorant.iv He reminds us that our great grandparents had an intimate knowledge of the technologies around them, and had no problem with getting the butter churn to work or preventing the lamp from smoking. Few of us would know what to do if our mobile phones stopped functioning, just as few of us know what is ‘underneath’ or ‘behind’ the keys of our laptops. Nor, indeed, do many of us want to know. But this means that we are all very quickly reduced to the quill and the lamp if we lose our power sources or if our machines cease to function. This makes us much more vulnerable – as well as much more ignorant in relative terms – than our predecessors."

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ID Code: 83969
Item Type: Book
ISSN: 0813-5335
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > CURRICULUM AND PEDAGOGY (130200)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING (190000) > OTHER STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING (190999) > Studies in the Creative Arts and Writing not elsewhere classified (199999)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 Australian Council for Educational Leaders
Copyright Statement: No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner. All inquiries should be made to the ACEL Secretariat.
Deposited On: 07 May 2015 22:26
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2015 15:12

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