Padding upstream: Learning to Row or Tread Water at Least


  • Gary Ovington


We live in a rapidly changing world. Knowledge is a reflection of that world. What we learn today may no longer be relevant in 10 years. How do we navigate the treacherous reefs of change? How do we ensure flexibility, and ultimately choice, in such a context? This paper explores a dual tack - two general strategies - and provides a concrete example of how these strategies might swim together. First, we must change our focus from what we learn to how we learn. Knowledge is not a fleet of competing ships that offer independent journeys to fixed and final destinations. Ultimately the landscape is whole, but a shifting sea of doubt and we cannot be certain of destinations. If we want choice, we must learn how to navigate. Second, we must learn how to cast a light anchor from our skills-based vessel, learn how to live with the other passengers, even if living on the top deck we think we can ignore the crew in the hold. We can only do this by taking account of our context, where we have come from and what we carry with us: our cultural baggage. This paper briefly examines how we might tackle this task within the context of the social sciences in higher education