Too Much of One Thing…

I watched a lot of television growing up. As Lawrence Lessig points out, “the average TV is left on for 8.5 hours a day” and “the average American watches that average TV for about 4.5 hours a day” (Lessig 68). Now I didn’t clock the number of hours of television I watched a day growing up, but the TV was certainly on for most of the day. As that was the main medium through which I consumed information, I would argue that a lot of what I learned about literature I learned from television.

I watched Gilmore Girls religiously, where reference upon reference was being made. Gilmore Girls was a one-hour drama. Typically, a script for a show this length is around sixty pages, whereas a script for Gilmore Girls was about one hundred in order to accommodate the number of references, musical, cultural, literary, filmic the list goes on. In order to gain a comprehensive understanding about what is going on in that show you have to look up the references.  The point is, the “remixing” of mediums and information can allow for self directed learning, which often times can be far more effective than traditional education. As Lessig quotes Mimi Ito, remix can be “a strategy to excite ‘interest-based learning’. As the name suggests, interest-based learning is the learning driven by found interests” (80). A lot of exposure to different things now often comes from secondary sources or remixes and references to “the original” since the growth of technology. And in turn, learning no longer has to be linear or begin with the so-called “original”.

Sir Ken Robinson gives a talk for the RSA (Royal Society of the encouragement of the Arts) on how education needs to be changing along with the technology of the 21st century. Ironically the linked video is actually an adaptation of the talk he gave and the RSA remixed it into an animated version. In this video, Robinson says that there are two types of academic ability—academic (smart people) and non-academic (non-smart people). Many people who are brilliant think they are not because they have been judged under this model (Robinson).  He goes on to say that this old model maintains the idea that there is one answer: “don’t look! And don’t copy! Because that’s cheating,” whereas outside of schools that’s called collaboration”. Lessig makes a similar claim about academia, he says, ” ‘Entertainment’ is separate from ‘education’. So any skills learned in this ‘remix culture’ is ‘constructed oppositionally to academic achievement'” (Lessig 79). Remixing and collaboration are meant to benefit education and new generations, but if education is to continue in its traditional way many students and people will be severely hindered in any future growth personally, professionally, technologically etc.

Why rethinking education and academia in this way gives rise to questions of legitimacy and possible amateur takeover (The Cult of the Amateur), I’m not sure. Is it too optimistic to think that legitimate academia and creative collaboration can co-exist, work together or even learn more from one another? I should hope not.

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4 Responses to Too Much of One Thing…

  1. nlikarev says:

    Yes, this was my exact issue with Andrew Keen’s The Cult of the Amateur! School boards are forever figuring out more practical way of presenting material to students, and in the meantime students have to find ways to accumulate information in a way that suits their learning habits/interests and what better way to do this than with the internet.
    Another facet of your argument that I really applied to what I had in mind while reading Lessig and Keen was how important it is for people to start learning how to value different types of knowledge. Academic knowledge does not encompass all knowledge, it actually is greatly lacking and incredibly rigid.
    A video that might be of interest is “Why I Hate School But Love Education”:

  2. nlikarev says:

    *and what better way to do this than with a variety of mediums.

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