Douglas Thomas on a New Culture of Learning

I seem to be attracting information on the topic of creativity, innovation and education lately. I turned the TV on today and randomly found Douglas Thomas, Associate Professor at the University of Southern California and author of A New Culture of Learning, speaking of the future of learning and technology. More specifically, Thomas was asked to speak on what learning will look like in 2030.

I was immediately drawn in when I heard Thomas said this:

“If someone finds their passion try to stop them from learning. I bet you can’t do that.”

He went on to talk about what learning is and how despite the changes in technology over the years, learning is something that has remained the same.

“Passion, wonder, curiosity and joy… those are the things that make us learn.”

A few further quotes from the lecture that are definitely worth noting here. On the topic of play and imagination and how the application of rules on imagination is key for learning:

Being able to experiment and being able to play is a foundational element… is what provokes our imagination and what really makes life interesting for us. Learning happens when you start to put constraints around that imagination. Then you get to experiment, you get to play, and you use all that sense of joy, of wonder, of curiosity to push against those boundaries and limits and seeing what pushes back.

Like the old ‘give a child a cardboard box and they’ll play for hours’… Thomas suggests:

Give a child a stick and see where their imagination takes them.

In the question and answer at the end of the talk, a teacher educator asks how to inspire future teachers in the philosophy and education of passion, relevance and play in their classrooms of the future. What I really like about this question is that when thinking about the answer, I substitute “parents” instead of “teachers” and “kids” instead of “students”.  After all, as parents we want to inspire passion, relevance and play in our kids too!  The answer?

  1. Lead by example, show your kids your passion.

  2. Understand what your kids passions are and connect that to what you want to teach them.

The following sketches are taken from a schematic found on the New Culture of Learning website.



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