At a recent Clipperton event in London, the attendees were shown many wonderful images, both challenging and inspiring. However, there was one which resonated with me more than any of the others and set me on a rather obtuse train of thought; the kind which I imagine Jon Bonfiglio envisaging when he thought up the Clipperton Project in the first place.
This image of the ordnance left by the US Army at the end of WW2 left me with more questions than any other. There were the obvious ones (why did they need all these bombs?) the angry ones (why did they not take them away when they left?) and the mischievous ones (what kind of noise would they make if we blow them up?). However, the one which remained more than any others after a time was: “What kind of arrogance do you have to have to just leave something like this behind?” The total lack of thought, care for other people and shameless wastefulness which this picture represents is staggering but, sadly, not unusual in our times.
But, this is surely a standard response to such an image, not the “obtuse train of thought” to which I referred earlier. As an educator, I am always looking for a way “into” subjects. We are encouraged to “engage with the horizons of the pupils” and “promote original thought”. These are all well and good but to what extent is this ever possible? With technology and innovation moving at a frightening rate are we, as teachers, “abandoning the ordnance” by trying to keep up with trends and thus leaving behind a whole host of “unexploded bombs” for my pupils to find later in life. In seeking to “stay ahead of the game”, do we in this world, move onto the next thing before we have really dealt sufficiently with the here and the now?
Unfortunately, the management-speak phrases in the previous paragraph reflect the current learning objectives in education at the moment. The analogy may be ham-fisted but the simple fact is that originality is not only hard to come by but also not necessarily always progressive. If we could, maybe, just spend a bit more time on the present and ensure that a proper job is done on whatever our project is, be it clearing up an island or educating, then we might find the “next thing” a more satisfying experience.
Dominic Mochan - Educator - Buckingham, England