We’ve got to decide if our vision for educational technology is around replication or empowerment. And if it’s about empowerment, then guess what? We’ve got to give up the things that we do that feed replication. We can’t hang on to all of those and get to where we’re trying to go.
What are we going to give up?
Image credit: Let go, Andrew Mitchell
Years ago I had a writing coach that stressed “show, don’t tell.”
I was watching “To Kill a Mockingbird” and part of an early scene struck a chord. Jem wants Atticus to do a thing or else he’ll stay in a tree. Atticus says, “Suit yourself,” ands walks away. No arguing, no threats, let the child learn that few trees have running water, refrigerators, or any other conveniences.
That is an example we all should follow. You can lead a horse to water, but try another, more rewarding hobby.
And yet we do so much telling – and so little experiencing – in school…
In “Winds of War” a character, Leslie Slote, claims art is the exhaust gas of any civilization (I have shamelessly stolen it) and the DVD of Mockingbird has a wonderful documentary called “Fearful Symmetry” that forms a bridge between the life and the art of Harper Lee.
Shortly after commenting, I was caught by an interview with Harper Lee’s, and one assumes Truman Capote’s teacher. She pontificates, as too many do, on how great kids were and how crappy they are now. Hard upon, she unknowingly makes clear why she would be ignored. The iPod, iPhones, iPad, etc. would be more than she could compete with. In fact, two facts!
Of course kids would be bored; only moral indignation kept my eyes open throughout her diatribe. I’m a laugh riot, but even I would rather listen to my iPod than listen to me. However, we don’t compete, we co-opt. Instead of banning iPods, we provide them.
It’s simple, a massive paradigm shift is coming that will instantaneously render eighty percent of our colleagues horribly unqualified. A rotation through the learners would be exponentially more effective.
A line in your video “From Fear to Empowerment” really spoke to me. You said that we do everything we can to get technology in the hands of our students, and then we do everything we can to ensure that they can’t use it. While it is important that teachers protect their students from the dangers of the internet, there is such a thing as too much. The fear that people have is that what they see as “pointless fun” is actually just as informative as other things. True, you still need your basic reading, writing and math….but we should encourage students to express what they have learned in the way they wish.
To attempt to further discussion, I ask a question. Should education go from set projects with rules, like a lesson plan, to a broader scope? Example, as an inspiring English teacher I wish that I can make Literature and character analysis a fun experience, should I then continue with a typical lesson plan or give the students a base set of requirements and let them explore the options out there for them?