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June 07, 2021 Monday 10:54:36 AM IST

Beyond the Bloom’s Taxonomy - Emergence of Entrepreneurial Education

Cover Story

Covid-19 pandemic has become trying times for education sector, forcing it to reimagine itself to cope with the year-long uncertainties and lockdowns. A number of quick fixes and ad hoc solutions are deployed today to circumvent the crisis. Every crisis is a prob-opportunity, a synergy between the inherent problems of the system with the opportunities ahead. Every crisis is an invitation for rejuvenation, a call for a kind of molting, to shed the old skin and to enter into a fresh one. Every crisis is a call for perestroika, a radical restructuring of an obsolete system. Education sector was in a deep crisis even before the pandemic broke out. It is high time that a rock-foundation for its reconstruction is identified, which calls for a lot of careful investigation and preparedness to ring in the emergent evolution.

A short history of Evolution of Pedagogies

Looking into the history of education, we see that pedagogical approaches kept on evolving according to the need of the times, as dictated by the technological advancements.

Phase I(Remember): In a time, when transmission of knowledge was difficult, pedagogies emphasized on memorizing. Learners were supposed to remember the knowledge, which they could recover on demand. They learnt the contents by heart via repeated recitation of certain mantras, which encapsulated the given knowledge. The emphasis was on faithful transmission of knowledge. Those who could recite those Latin, Greek, Sanskrit, Arabic texts with right intonation, were regarded as the best students in those days, irrespective of whether they had understood the meaning of those texts or not.

Phase II(Understand): As time went by, technologies of printing and publication became prevalent, making transmission of knowledge relatively easier. Correspondingly, the focus of pedagogies shifted towards the understanding of the meaning of those texts and its contextual interpretations. Pedagogies of those days, emphasized on understanding. Knowledgeable people were those who possessed ready answers to the doubts of others. The wise were considered Walking Encyclopedias!

Phase III(Apply, Analyze, Evaluate): During industrialization, learners were required to be experts in the application of a given piece of knowledge, they have imbibed. They were also expected to analyze the problems, devise solutions and evaluate the industrial processes time to time. Deeper engagement with information also made it ubiquitous, triggering an Information Revolution, leading to an Age of Information, which persists even today. Pedagogies of industrial age focused on the skill development, which equipped the learners to make use of the information to solve perennial problems of the day.

Phase IV (Create): Today, we stand on the peak of a path-breaking industrial revolution, which is named differently as Industry 4.0, Digitalization revolution, etc. Here, intelligent machines displace the human counterparts from their traditional roles of application, analysis and evaluation of knowledge. Intelligent machines are equipped with abilities to manage everything, making rational and “moral” decisions on their own. In the new scenario, humans are condemned to be creative and to participate in the process of innovation in collaboration with those intelligent machines.

In fact, we look forwards to a scenario, where the role of creation will also be delegated to the machines. The Russian movement initiated by Genrich Altshuller already in 1946, called TRIZ (Russian: теория решения изобретательских задач, transliterated as Teoriya Resheniya Izobretatelskikh Zadatch) and translated as "the theory of inventive problem solving", envisages to transfer the process of creation to the machines, whose momentum is expedited with advancements in artificial intelligence and emergence of super intelligent machines. The theory has analyzed millions of patents and identified patterns of creative thinking, which it proposes to transform into appropriate algorithms, which will lead the process of creation. Once the delegation of the process of creation is complete, humans will be left with their amazing skills as free individuals endowed with holistic accomplishments to realize their primordial duty “to preserve and curate the creation!”

Correspondingly, educators will be compelled to devise novel pedagogies to suit the needs of the time, meeting the requirements of the digital natives. However, we have already exhausted of categories offered by Benjamin Bloom in his Taxonomy of Educational Objectives within the cognitive domain. It is no more sufficient today that learners remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate or create to be able to conduct themselves in the life and work spaces of tomorrow dominated by the intelligent machines.

Beyond Bloom’s Taxonomy

The act of creation was conceived as the crowning moment of human cognition by the revised Bloom’s Taxonomy in 2001. With the elapse of twenty more years, in 2021, we receive the intuition that it may not suffice the digital natives, who are born into the era of information and digitalization. “To create” may not remain as the crowning cognitive competence of humans any more, if it is equally accessible to the intelligent machines. Hence, humans are required to seek their cognitive core competence elsewhere, which may not easily be conceded to the intelligent machines.

PhaseV (Venture):The life and work spaces of tomorrow are characterized by the adjectives Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous or VUCA. In a VUCA world, learners will be required to venture into unspecified, unchartered and undefined work spaces, which will be defined partly through their venture. Such work spaces shall be characterized as entrepreneurial, defined by the self-motivated undertaking of certain service in the society.

The French verb “entreprendre” takes the meaning “to undertake”, derived from its Latin roots, entre, meaning “between” and prendre, meaning “to take”, which in combination transmits the sense of “undertaking”. The word also carries a close similarity with the Sanskrit word, anthaprerna, which means “self-motivation”. Thus, any self-motivated undertaking can be called an entrepreneurial activity.

Historically, the word “entrepreneur” also had a war connotation. For example, surrounding a town was considered an entrepreneurial activity, as it combined strategy, organization, and risk-taking. In fact, these are also the traits anticipated in an entrepreneurial undertaking. Let us define the verb “venture” to incorporate all these aspects of self-motivated undertaking, which is founded on appropriate strategy, organization and risk-taking.

There may arise a confusion, whether “to venture” could be considered as a cognitive accomplishment to crown the taxonomy of cognitive educational objectives. The doubt arises from a restricted understanding of the act of thinking, which originated from the definitions of analytical thinking based on syllogistic logic proposed by none other than the great Aristotle. According to Aristotle, thinking process shall follow two basic assumptions:

1. Principle of Excluded Middle, which excludes the gray regions between the truth values “True” or “False”, from the process of thinking. This, in effect, excluded the possibility of fuzzy thinking or gray thinking, which encroached into the gray regions of the truth values according to the syllogistic logic. However, as we know today, fuzzy logic is not only possible, but also is technologically ripe to be implemented within the control systems of ordinary washing machines or air conditioners!

2. Principle of Non-Contradiction, which forbids the coexistence of the truth values. In other words, “True” and “False” cannot co-exist! This, in effect, excludes the possibilities of white thinking. Even as the analytical thinking is characterized as “black-and-white” thinking, the white in this phrase was never accepted as a polychromatic reality by Aristotle. Clear and distinct thinking had to exclude many lines of thinking, which were categorized as imprecise thinking. In practice, analytical thinking alone was considered worthy to be qualified as thinking!

This position was challenged by ancient Buddhist  thinkers of India, especially by Nagarjuna, who defined five truth values, namely “True”, “False”, “True and False”, “Neither True nor False”, and “Ineffable or Indescribable”. He visualized the possibility of truth values coexisting, as it is observed in the existential realities of life. For example, good and evil may coexist in the same person! As we realize it today, analytical thinking is just one among many thinking styles. The process of thinking consists of large number of other lines, including Holistic thinking, Infinitesimal thinking, Mutual thinking, Figurative thinking, Imaginative thinking and Intuitive thinking, as it is described in a forthcoming book on White Thinking from Pallikkutam Publications of Rajagiri Media.

In short, if we consider human intellection as a broad spectrum of thinking styles which together give rise to the white thinking on a circular integration, “to venture” could be conceived as the crowing point of human cognitive activity. This position is supported by a comprehensive understanding of thinking process itself. Thus “venture” defines a self-motivated undertaking of the learner to realize an entrepreneurial seed idea.

Entrepreneurial Pedagogy

A pedagogy that equips the new generation learners to venture into undefined possibilities of life and career may be called an Entrepreneurial Pedagogy. Such a pedagogy may start with the creation of a seed idea, systematically advancing towards its transformation into an entrepreneurial product or service. It shall empower the digital natives to profit from the anticipated uncertainties in their life and career, keeping them venture-fit.

A typical entrepreneurial pedagogy is in the making at Pallikkutam i-School of Rajagiri Media, which is being duly perfected via iterations of trial-and-error. The learning part of the pedagogy starts from the A typical entrepreneurial pedagogy is in the making at Pallikkutam i-School of Rajagiri Media, which is being duly perfected via iterations of trial-and-error. The learning part of the pedagogy starts from the act of “creation of a seed idea” by the learner, who will develop it in five consecutive stages into “entrepreneurial products and services”. This Entrepreneurial Learning Event will be learner-centered and learner-driven, which operates purely on the intrinsic motivations of the learners. The learning event will be complemented with an Entrepreneurial Teaching Event, which will be a learner-centered and teacher-driven event. Here, expert teachers mentor learners and accelerate the process of developing of entrepreneurial products and services. Further details of the entrepreneurial pedagogy will be made available in another forthcoming book on the topic from Pallikkutam Publications.

Emergence of Entrepreneurial Education

As in any process of evolution, modern pedagogies may also carry some evolutionary vestiges of the past pedagogies. In other words, the cognitive processes like remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate and create will continue to exist in a modern pedagogy in the increasing order of significance as cognitive accomplishments. However, it is imperative that the educationalists facilitate the emergence of the latest evolutionary transformation in the cognitive domain, namely “to venture”, which remains as an expression of the whole-person thinking or full-spectrum thinking or white thinking. It equips the learner to autonomously undertake entrepreneurial projects which will progressively shape their future entrepreneurial career.

Any education that equips learners entrepreneurially could be characterized as an Entrepreneurial Education. The world today awaits a radical entrepreneurial transformation of education, which will equip the learners to conduct themselves in a VUCA world. May the educational disruptions during the Covid-19 pandemic catalyze this evolutionary emergence!

Dr. Varghese Panthalookaran

Dr Varghese Panthalookaran, the founding Director of Rajagiri Media is a Professor of Engineering (Dr.-Ing.) at Rajagiri School of Engineering and Technology (RSET) in Kochi, India. He is an author of four books in three different languages, Malayalam, English and German. His drama book in Malayalam titled: “Buddhan Veendum Chirikkunnu” (translated: “Buddha Laughs Again”) has won the Endowment Award of Kerala Sahitya (Literature) Academy in 2000. His book in German language, “Die Lehre Jesu als Schluessel zur Lebensfreude” is published in 2007 by LIT Verlag, Münster, Germany. His thesis “CFD-assisted characterization and design of hot water seasonal heat store” in published by Shaker Verlag, Aachen, Germany in 2007. His book on creative thinking skills and entrepreneurship, “Condemned to be Creative” is published by Pallikkutam Publications, India in 2019. It is a useful resource for students, teachers, academicians and management professionals to develop the skills of creative thinking in daily life. He has also recently developed a new pedagogy, named Pallikkutam Pedagogy, integrating the educational legacy of India with the requirements of imparting the 21st century skills that make next generation learners to render them future-ready.
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