What is a meme? Wikipedia says:

The British scientist Richard Dawkins coined the word “meme” in The Selfish Gene (1976)[1][4] as a concept for discussion of evolutionary principles in explaining the spread of ideas and cultural phenomena. Examples of memes given in the book included melodies, catch-phrases, fashion, and the technology of building arches.[5]

I first came across the term, last century, while reading The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition into the Forces of History (1994) by Howard Bloom. The author’s thesis was that nation states, tribes and other social units are “superorganisms” bound by memes, which are our shared ideas that provide the glue that binds.

The RSA Animate video of Sir Ken Robinson’s ideas, re: the need for a changed education paradigm, is the kind of meme that, spread by the internet, can rapidly make people ‘see’ differently. Like climate change, we reach ‘tipping point’ and more people believe, or at least are aware of the concept, than are not.

Then we have the challenge of actually doing something!

When tipping point is reached re: Sir Ken’s thesis, about the impact of the unchanging factory model of education, then what?

I am having a very busy patch at the moment; giving two conference keynotes and 4 workshops in 5 days to principals, executive members and teachers in both primary and high school, across sectors, public and private. I am finding the audiences interesting. I reckon things are changing. I feel it in my waters. Teachers are seeing differently, or at least, are open to doing things differently.

Now we just need some ‘big picture’ vision from state, national and education authorities that goes beyond the ‘more of the same’ paradigm that Sir Ken discusses more fully here.

Don’t get frustrated…keep talking…and more, keep agitating for change that will assist kids to lead full, creative lives of hope and joy. Don’t let the factory, or others acceptance of the conveyor belt grind you down.

Even if you think I am being overly optimistic and you see the horizon bobbing with reductionist standardised testing regimes, poor funding or curriculum design that is outdated before it is rubber stamped, it is important to keep reading, talking, creating, sharing and enthusing colleagues, parents and students.

Malcolm Gladwell (thanks Wikipedia) says:

“A meme is an idea that behaves like a virus – that moves through a population, taking hold in each person it infects.”

Do some infecting, I say!



  1. 100% with you Darcy. The meme is creeping and there are times when we must stick to our core learning habits and keep growing our communities in spite of weird reaction. Perhaps safer that there are rarely instant satoris for cultures but evolutions. We are on the path.

      • Darcy Moore

      • 13 years ago

      Agreed! Thanks Victor!

  2. Darcy, this is wonderful!
    I just introduced my year 10 class to memes early last week (before me melt down – see my latest blog post!). We were discussing youtube and the videos that ‘take off’ and why … a friend of mine was over at our house a couple of months ago and spoke about youtube in relation to ‘memes’. Not long before Lee had shown me a TED talk on memes by philosopher Dan Dennett – it was interesting to hear this concept linked to social media. But it just makes sense. The kids ‘kinda’ got what I was talking about – and then asked me if they could look at LOLcats and the ‘I like turtles’ kid, lol! Yep, they got it!
    PS: My fav verb at the moment is ‘agitate’ … my fav adjective is ‘subversive’ … and my fav noun is ‘edupunk’ 😉 Thanks again :0)

      • Darcy Moore

      • 13 years ago

      Thanks Bianca. Folks, here’s that TED talk about memes.

    • Dean Groom

    • 13 years ago

    Darcy, Once again a shot in the arm.

    I’ve spent my 10,000 hours online Mr Galdwell, and as result, I’m pretty good at what I can do. I’ve sent my 10,000th Tweet, I collected 10,000 unread emails, I’ve rezzed 10,000 prims and killed 10,000 monsters in MMOs, and flown 10,000 miles – But most of all I’ve met 10,000 people.

    I believe the meme will work, but only if there are enough brave souls willing to avoid the seductive call to monitise their expertise and allow others to share in that experiences. I hope you are right – as I’m weary of watching my bright, creative children ‘log off’ when they go to school – seeing it as work and not enlightenment – and I am equally tired of the commercialisation and to some extent the learned helplessness that many new to this campaign believe as truth.

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