Freelance Learners: a powerful gateway to innovation and creativity?

25 10 2011
Freelancer (video game)

Freelancer (video game) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A freelancer, according to Wikipedia, is somebody who is self-employed and is not committed to a particular employer long term.

One thing I believe strongly is that our schools should be mimicking the real world so much more than they currently are. After all, if we’re supposed to be preparing students to be “productive citizens,” or “lifelong learners,” they need to have experience in what the real world is like in as authentic environment as possible.

So along comes this idea of freelance learning. I thought, why not?

Freelancers are people who don’t have traditional jobs or companies for which they work. No, these folks have tossed aside “how we’ve always done it,” to make a new world of work for themselves.

Now in schools today, I’m not sure we’re in the business of pushing learners (be that students or educators) into being freelancers, are we? You know, pushing people to toss aside the traditional, “how we’ve always done it,” to make a new world for ourselves?

Relax, mom and dad. Those visions flashing before your eyes where your basement-living 30 year old offspring with his mounds of dirty laundry and 24/7 video games is asking for a handout isn’t at all what I’m talking about. 

No, a (successful) freelancer is a professional who’s earned solid qualifications through a dependable educational base and has enough experience to thrive as a stand-alone freelancer. They are usually working within a profession that might not be thought of as “entrepreneurial” but freelancers are doing just that. They’ve struck out on their own and have created their work and found their clients, investing their own sweat and blood equity to make it all work.

And it’s all about their passions. The areas in which they feel so strongly about, they’re compelled to do their work, part time or full time to change the world.

As ________ wrote in his book, _____________, back in 200_, (yeah, I don’t remember who wrote it where, in what, or when, so if you do recognize the following info, please let me know and I’ll give the guy credit. I’m leaning toward T. Friedman, S. Godin, or C. Shirky. )

Anyway, a large chunk of our future jobs are becoming ad hoc groups of professionals (read as freelancers) who come together to complete a particular project, then disband, only to move on to the next project and start the process again. They’re not married for 50+ years to one company, or even 5-8 years to one company. They belong to no one but themselves and the task, and the love of the work.

They choose to go into the projects they wish, pass on the ones they wish, and basically set their own rules. Their work can be mobile, it can be place-based, or maybe it doesn’t have to be.

But they have to work hard and connect and collaborate. They have to have the personality, the skills to be a sought-after team member, bringing not only content skill, but also personality and innovation to the team work. And they have to be able to prove themselves again and again in order to make any sort of living. Wow! Talk about a jack of all trades.

But I wonder…

I wonder if schools are creating fertile ground for kids to see, think about, and experience this type of work. Ad hoc groups that are there for a time and purpose, with each person bringing his/her own strengths to the project. With the collapse of our factory-driven economic system and the boom of the creative sector, it seems to be an important part of what the world is becoming.

Maybe it’s just me, but while it feels terrifying, it feels awfully liberating at the same time, to create freelance learners.

How would this look in our schools? It could never be a “Freelance Learner Program,” since that’s an oxymoron. A Program to create Freelancers?

So instead, how do we create a mindset of freelance learning?

And maybe it’s not for all kids; in fact it’s probably only for some kids. But I’m not sure which kids, are you?

And how will those kids ever know if innovation, mobile learning and working…freelancing... is a life for them if they are never allowed the chance to practice?

Maybe it is for all kids after all…

 

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17 01 2016
Learning Independence Continuum | The Institute for Personalized Learning

[…] able to drive their own learning, and want to learn out of curiosity – similar to the concept of “freelance” learners discussed in this blog by Ginger Lewman. Much literature and focus (dollars and programs) concentrate on building engaged […]

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