Not knowing what to do can be uncomfortable – if left long enough it can be distressing. We like knowing what happens next; cliff hangers only work because they suspend time encouraging us to come back for more to discover what happens next. We love weather forecasts to discover if it will be sunny tomorrow. We want things to be calm and peaceful as it suggests certainty. Disturbing images only last a finite time within the media as they present a ‘not knowing how to deal with it’ or ‘but what can I do?’ scenario. We tie things into a bow and go to sleep knowing that tomorrow will be like today and much similar to yesterday.The problem with the desire for certainty is the denial of the ‘other’. The ‘other’ doesn’t exist in certainty as it contains risk, a fear of changing what we know into something we don’t and, in doing so, repositions us. We don’t want the other – we like the known.
Hidden Giants aims to initiate periods of uncertainty as a way of creating spaces to construct new meaning. We believe learning is knowledge acquisition but are interested in how this occurs to ensure learners are able to interpret, transfer, critique and ultimately challenge it.
Biesta, building on Dewey, argues that education operates through communication, in which the prevailing view is ‘communication as the transmission of information from one person to another or, in more abstract terms from one location to another.” However, he goes on to suggest communication ‘is not a process of transportation of information from one mind to another, but is rather to be understood as a process of meaning and interpretation. It is a process that is radically open and undetermined – and hence weak and risky. This reading of learning appeals to Hidden Giants philosophy as it invites the opportunity for co-enquiry between teacher and learner. We believe, and current research suggests, attainment in education happens through participation with a genuine sense of purpose. But what does participation in a classroom mean and how do I create uncertainty?
If you are reading this and believe in what I am saying you will probably be asking yourself ‘what do I do?’ My response is ‘I don’t know – what do you think?’ You might not want to hear this as, just like the weather, you want to know if it will be sunny tomorrow? The thing about participation is that everyone needs to buy into the construction and delivery of the process. That means you need to enter into a dialogue with your learners, colleagues, parents, society into ‘what happens next?’ If I simply tell you what to do we risk two scenarios occurring: the first is that it works and things improve – this will lead to dependency as you will relate it to the instruction I gave you: the second is that it doesn’t work and you grow resentful of the instruction I’ve given. I don’t like either.
We’re not interested in telling you what to do next but simply say, knowing what we know now, what should we reposition to improve everyone’s experience of education?