What's Wrong with Digital Education? Ghana ThinkTank has the Solutions!

2011 Ghana ThinkTank at the Vera List Center for Art and Politics
PowerPoint is ruining our minds=>Do social theater.(El Salvador)
How can we maintain relationships when everyone is online?=>Force a tech-free time. Blackouts increase intimacy. (Gaza)
How do we prevent technology from destroying the pleasure of reading?=>Force a tech-free time. Blackouts increase intimacy. (Gaza)
How do we prevent technology from destroying the pleasure of reading?=>Run a sunset reading session on the roof. Read Orientalism by Edward Said and Dutch by Terry Woods. (Gaza and American prison)

Such were the "solutions" provided by Ghana ThinkTank's expansive network of partner think tanks for the problems of our world.

The Vera List Center for Art and Politics hosted the artist group for a week-long residency during MobilityShifts International Future of Learning Summit, from October 10-16, 2011. During the residency, Ghana ThinkTank presented a variety of events in response to the summit's theme of digital learning, among them a public installation of Ghana ThinkTank's Mobile Unit, an exhibition at the Skybridge Curatorial Project, and actions and interventions throughout the conference.

The center piece was Ghana ThinkTank's Mobile Unit, a custom-built teardrop trailer installed for the entire week at the curb in front of The New School's historic main building at 66 West 12th Street. The Mobile Unit travels the so-called "First World" to gather issues of concern from various local communities. The problems thus collected get shared with think tanks in Ghana, Cuba, El Salvador, Mexico, Serbia, Iran, Afghanistan, and various other countries, where strategies are developed to help those in the so-called developed world. The trailer then rolls back into the previously visited communities, this time as a workstation, cooperating with community members to apply the strategies received from this global network of think tanks – whether they seem impractical or brilliant. Ghana ThinkTank thus reverses the customary flow of know-how from "developed" to "developing" countries in playful and provocative ways.

What began as a simple question – "What's wrong with digital education?" – soon became a live process: suggested by international think tank members and interpreted by artists Christopher Robbins and John Ewing, the "solutions" consisted, for example, of a rooftop reading at sunset or analog status updaters. In a PowerPoint coup staged by the Theatre of the Oppressed that doused everyone into pitch black night, the actions became, in the words of Christopher Robbins, "in turns awkward, funny, baffling, interesting, and excruciating."

In mid-October 2011, Occupy Wall Street was on everyone's mind. Not surprisingly, one of the submitted solutions proposed that we create a community of common interest. Ghana ThinkTank immediately packed up, and the Mobile Unit traveled to Zucotti Park where it joined OWS. Ghana ThinkTank will continue to monitor the situation there and send Wall Street questions ("What's Your Wall Street Problem?") to its think tanks in Iran, Gaza, El Salvador, Serbia, Ghana, Cuba, and Mexico, and begin efforts to establish think tanks in Syria, Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia, and Libya.

In addition to these actions, Skybridge Curatorial Project hosted a Ghana ThinkTank gallery exhibition. Located between two New School buildings, the exhibition embodied the space of slippages that occur during the flow of information between different people and contexts.

Amanda Ghanooni, a graduate student in International Affairs commented to The New School Free Press, "It's a reversal of transferring problems and resolutions. Just by getting new perspectives, we are opening ourselves up to a world of answers that people might not have thought of before."

During their residency at the Vera List Center, the Ghana ThinkTank learned that they will travel to Lebanon as part of U.S. Department of State's smARTpower program. We look forward to following Ghana ThinkTank's future travels and endeavors.

For full descriptions of all of Ghana ThinkTank's solutions at The New School, please visit the following links:

What's your Wall Street Problem

Roof top Sunset Reading

Blackout And Social Theatre

Analog Updatr