Slow Education

I wrote recently about what I call ‘slow learning’ on the analogy of slow food. My idea is simple: the writing process is a more educationally nutritious alternative to the standardized test. Metaphors can only be pushed so far, but I think this one holds up well. Fast food, like the standardized test, is, among other things, a mechanized response to the perceived problems of mas society.

We don’t think in industrial terms much anymore, but the standardized test and the fast food restaurant are iterations of the assembly line. These technologies are obsolete. Workers don’t need to spend their days doing the same repetitive task hour after hour; civilization won’t end if we slow down– in several senses– and enjoy well-cooked healthy meals.

I just read a piece in which a photographer made a similar argument for slow photography and it got me thinking about how these ides might apply to online learning. The “fast education” norm would seem to suggest that we have to follow the latest technologies, as quickly as possible, in order to meet our students expectations and, perhaps, cognitive styles.

In online education, this means moving from largely text based systems such as I use now to systems that rely heavily on graphics, including both moving and still images. I wonder if we might, instead, argue that for a writing class a slow education, rooted in texts rather than images, and perhaps a little philosophically resistant to change, makes more sense.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Post Navigation