erica mcwilliam – usefully ignorant

erica mcwilliam bw
Whoa. What Erica brought us to the table.
being usefully ignorant
a usefully ignorant full
And we were never the same again. That simple.
here’s her paper [pdf download]:
unlearning how to teach
[2021 – responding to dave cormier tweet request.. link above no longer works.. for now .. this one does:] – he said that one was paywalled.. so found this one – unlearning pedagogy: [] – 11 page pdf
by Erica McWilliam


and here’s the random – still kicking it around in my brain – summary – written right after i read her paper the first time:
1.The disposition to be usefully ignorant:
In simple terms, we are much more ignorant in relative terms than our predecessors.
But Leadbeater makes a further point about our increasing relative ignorance that is highly significant for teaching and learning. It is that we can and must put this ignorance to work – to make it useful – to provide opportunities for ourselves and others to live innovative and creative lives. “What holds people back from taking risks”, he asserts, “is often as not …their knowledge, not their ignorance” (p.4).Useful ignorance, then, becomes a space of pedagogical possibility rather than a base that needs to be covered. ‘Not knowing’ needs to be put to work without shame or bluster. This sort of thinking is echoed in Guy Claxon’s (2004) call for a pedagogy for “knowing what to do when you don’t know what to do” (p.?) . Out best learners will be those who can make ‘not knowing’ useful, who do not need the blueprint, the template, the map, to make a new kind of sense. This is one new disposition that academics as teachers need to acquire fast – the disposition to be usefully ignorant.
2. Teacher not adding value will be bypassed:
In blunt terms, this means that the teacher who does not add value to a learning network can – and will – be by-passed. The rhizomatic capacity of networks to flow around a point in a chain means that teachers may be located in a linear supply chain of pedagogical services but excluded from their students’ learning networks. That would be an effect of being perceived by students to be doing things that do not add value. And digital technologies can and are being used both to identify value-blocks and options for getting around them. Once again, this is not a just matter of how much take-up of technology is evident in the pedagogical work (Sassen, 2004), but whether or not pedagogical processes bring student and teacher together in their shared ignorance and mutual desire to make something new of their world.
3. World of remix – edit reality:
4. Take play seriously – the opposite of play isn’t work, it’s depression:
Play’, Kane tells us, “will be to the 21st century what work was to the last 300 years of industrial society – our dominant way of knowing, doing and creating value”
5. One is strong enough in one world to be prepared to be uncomfortable and ignorant (at least temporarily) in another:
wonderings about – being usefully preoccupied.
different? helpful to differentiate? or not?
either way – totally inspired by Erica.
both as freeing/helping us to be free/us/antifragile/alive..
trading in pluralistic ignorance for useful ignorance