We Think

The second book in my pile of books to read over the Summer was Charles Leadbeater’s ‘We-Think’.

Charles is signed-up to be one of the keynote speakers at the LTS organised Scottish Learning Festival in September. The inside cover of the book describes Leadbeater as ‘one if the world’s leading authorities on innovation and creativity’ so just what we need to inspire the 7,000 teachers and others who will be at SLF2008.

I have enjoyed reading Leadbeater over many years and admire the way that he carefully constructs and illustrates an argument rather than just asserting an opinion.

To my mind this is one of the best books on the wider implications of the web. Most of the books I have read overplay what is different about the web, i.e. they have no sense of history. They also tend to see the web as either entirely positive or completely negative rather than a complex set of tools that will be used by people with conflicting motives to meet contrasting ends.

Leadbeater rightly points out that ‘many thoughtful and sensible people … have grave reservations about the impact and implications of the web’.  He argues, however, that whilst being mindful of the dangers the web is on balance a positive force for democracy, equality and freedom. I think this is right as tyranny thrives on controlling information, denying access to  knowledge and constraining communication.

The We-Think website  claims that the book  ‘explores how the web is changing our world, creating a culture in which more people than ever can participate, share and collaborate, ideas and information.’ Leadbeater put this into practice when he published a draft of the We-Think online for comment and inviting further collaboration on the text via the website.

At the heart of ‘We Think’ is the concept that ‘ideas take life when they are shared’ and the web makes that process both instantaneous and global.

The book and website are well worth a read/visit. It made me think a lot about how much further we have got to go to embrace mass collaboration in Scottish education and our wider society.  I am looking forward to briefing Charles prior to SLF2008 and to hearing what I am sure will be a brilliant keynote on Thursday 25 September in Glasgow.

PS The next book on my Summer reading pile is lovely new translation of ‘War and Peace’ that I got as birthday present. I loved reading Tolstoy’s ‘Anna Karenina’ last year and if ‘War and Peace’ is half as good then I’ll be delighted. However at over 1300 pages it might be some time before I get around to blogging about it 🙂

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