Friday, April 12, 2013

"What's the Big Idea?"

The title of this post comes from Seymour Papert: "...the most neglected big idea is the very idea of bigness of ideas. I want to argue that the neglect of big ideas—or rather of the bigness of ideas—has become pervasive in the culture of School to the point where it dominates thinking about the content of what schools teach, as well as thinking about how to run them."

When I read a paper, when I see a student research proposal, when I see almost anything written, and when I listen to a seminar, I am trying to figure out where's the beef. Typically, one gets no end of preliminaries, detailed considerations of method, but by the time you get to the beef, you are (I am!) worn down by boredom. I don't think this is a deliberate act. People don't know where's the beef, what's the Big Idea, in their work, or better put they know it implicitly but they cannot give it away. It's too simple, too unpretentious, too common.

Crucially, the Big Idea empowers you, argue Papert.You are no longer just a student, but you are now active and out in the world....