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05 April 2014


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Hmm, I used to like that maxim Keith, but you've given me another view.

I suppose the main thing is to know when and how to fix things properly, like getting the right person for the job, e.g. Prof Schram.

And doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result, is also called insanity.

If you keep doing what you always did, you will get what you always got.

When resources are scarce ingenuity, innovation and research are required.

UNITECH vision is to be an innovative, entrepreneurial and financially sustainable university, and thus will play a key role in the country's development.

Right on, Albert. The 'if it's not broke, don't fix it' motto is a recipe for stagnancy. Onwards and upwards with continuous improvement. Much is possible with few resources - KJ

Back in the 1960s and 1970s I visited a number of developing countries. I was always fascinated by the informal economy.

On the streets of Bombay I watched a tailor sewing a suit, a barber giving a hair cut, a man typing a letter for someone on an old typewriter, men pulling heavy loads on open flat trays on wheels which included cans of food, washing, exercise books, steel rods and black taxis pulled by horses.

In Indonesia I travelled around the cities in the armchairs on bicycles riden by energetic young men. I also visited houses and saw the men and women busy at work printing their batik designs on cotton material for making their clothes. In Malaysia I ate lots of sate at night markets.

Everywhere I went people were busy and innovative. Today I hear about some of my ex-students in PNG who are also very innovative in the informal economy in Moresby. There should be no shame in an honest hard days work which provides an income to live on in the towns and cities.

Appropriate small business is vital for PNG's progress. In Australian prisons they teach the inmates a lot of skills that they may be able to use after their release. I hope PNG CIs will do likewise and all these big men who are going to be given time there will learn some new honest skills.

I don't know much about Bloom's Taxonomy, so let me try to surmise from first principles.

Education enhances intellectual capacity so that we become more aware of knowledge and better able to understand our predicaments.

What we do with or about it may be another thing altogether.

Educational attainments may have little to do with intellectual achievements.

Think Newton, who dropped out of school before discovering gravity. He learned from experience.

Think Einstein who had to create a new branch of mathematics in order to cater to Newtons unexplained phenomenon. He had to improve on what he had been taught and postulate an advance.

Education is a system. Systems are not necessarily conducive to innovation.

In fact, innovators tend to go against the system, the set way of thinking and doing things.

Today we know a lot more about innovation and how education may improve our ability to innovate.

Some use the fancy term 'systems thinking' as an innovative way to improve organisations and activities.

While we do need a better education system this is not an end in itself.

The stress on universal basic education is important for one crucial agenda: teaching children to learn how to learn.

After primary school or even kindagaten, and hopefully by high school, kids should know how to go about their business of learning.

We assume that education is providing everything they need, but do they know how to learn it, or are they regurgitating what they were 'taught' in class?

Knowledge gets old. It needs to be constantly updated.

The key to keeping pace with advancing knowledge is not simply doing more school time, but knowing how to go about learning what you need to know.

That's why the internet is so valuable as an information highway.

But do kids really use it for the valuable learning resource it is?

We don't attend university to learn; we attend university to push the boundaries of our current knowledge.

That's part of the way to being innovative but not all of it.

Creativity is another key factor to innovative thinking.

I claimed necessity as the mother, so think of creativity as the father.

These two parents create some interesting offspring.

The root of necessity is natural and/or man-made predicament.

The root of creativity is imagination.

Someone once said that 'what the mind can conceive, the hand can achieve'.

So any good education systems need to consider agenda on encouraging creative thinking.

If people have inspiration, motivation and desire and there is a real need to achieve something, combine that with an ability to think creatively, and innovation is merely a small step away.

PS, Keith it's 6:30 am so edit this if I rambled on. I'm off to bed.

I changed the headmaster (principal) to a fundamental proposition (principle). That was it - KJ

We are capable of being innovative but our education system is design in a way where we rearly see students at year one level thinking at a higher level in Blooms taxonomy.

In the movie "social network" Zuckerberg and his pals while still at uni were able to create which is the highest order of thinking.

We need a home grown education system.

An interesting article, thanks Martin.

Innovation is probably the less appreciated twin of invention.

Empowerment is important for innovation, but necessity is it's mother.

Education is a means of empowering people to think and work 'smarter'.

But innovative also people need enabling, i.e., resourcing with, skills, tools, financing and facilities.

I believe the task of government projects is enabling those people who have the need and drive to be innovative to do what is is they are capable of doing.

Often I think of this seemingly formidable beast we call development in the way DH Lawrence describes a little humming-bird;

"We look at [it] through the wrong end of the telescope of Time,
[un-Luckily] for us.

(An interesting aside from Wikipedia on DH Lawrence; 'His collected works represent an extended reflection upon the dehumanising effects of modernity and industrialisation'. He was officially censored and persecuted.)

Martyn - This is the whole problem.

We talk and people will keep smelling sin on our noses; the more who smell it, the more PNG goes down into the sea of no return.

Forty years of independence and no positive change.

Hi Martyn,

I think you are onto something here. The issue you are alluding to could be summed up as a lack of ‘critical mass’.

Some people know that there is a tipping point beyond with it is possible for some action to happen but until that point is achieved nothing much will happen. It’s a bit like the first atomic pile of uranium that was assembled in the US. Until a ‘critical mass’ of sufficient volume was put together and the control rods partially removed, all they got was random radiation. When the control rods were then partially extracted, the amount on radiation increased to the point where a chain reaction started to occur.

You have been constantly critical of pre Independent administrations of PNG. Yet the hard work of a few in those bygone days allowed you to be where you are now. The challenges then were the same as they are now. To create a critical mass of like minded people in a very diverse country that had no history of any such cohesion. If fact, the reverse was, and currently still is the case. Until the majority of PNG people finally become a ‘critical mass’, nothing will change.

PNG and her people must unite and all pull in the roughly the same direction in order to move forward in a more constructive way. As you say:

“…. empowerment is not so much about the level of education of the individual but the ability of the individual to discern the current realities and explore the possibilities. It is also about individuals making connections with other like-minded people so as to propagate change.”

Look at the examples of the recent past in PNG and identify what has worked and what hasn’t. How many PNG people either know about or are concerned about the Ramu mining sludge being pumped into a pristine marine environment? How many people understand that your fish stocks are about to be decimated in the name of development and employment. How many PNG people know about or are concerned about the possibility that the drugs being purchased by PNG taxes may not meet proper standards? How many people understand and have the power to overturn the ongoing rape of PNG forests? The list seemingly is endless if one starts to think about it?

Nearly 40 years have gone past since PNG achieved her Independence. How many more years must elapse before those who have the ability to create a ‘critical mass’ stop waffling, blaming others and start working together to achieve something positive?

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