Sunday, January 27, 2008


Educational Shift

When presenting 21st century tools to a group of peers at in-service, I am often met with resistance.

Below are seven reasons we CAN’T:

1. Children need to learn how to talk to each other, not stare at a screen

2. I don’t have time for my 1st life let alone a 2nd life

3. Our computers don’t work

4. All the students want to do is check their MySpace page

5. The kids know more about this than I do

6. The tests, the tests, I have to prepare for the tests!

7. This is just the flavor of the month, why bother

These concerns are well founded. Today’s educator is being sent into the field ill-equipped to meet the challenges presented by digital learners.

Let’s examine these issues individually starting with the purported isolation and de-socialization resulting from digital communication. Like most issues in life, a historical precedent exists.

From E.M. Forster’s 1909 short story “The Machine Stops” A son talking to his mother.

“I see something like you in this plate, but I do not see you. I hear something like you through this telephone but I do not hear you. That is why I want you to come. Pay me a visit, so that we can meet face to face and talk about the hopes that are in my mind.”
A century ago we feared the potential consequence of technological advancements. A century from now, this fear will be unchanged. The only differentiating factor will be exactly what we are afraid of. What humankind fears ~ was, is, and ever more shall be “The Unknown”.

This is why educators are viewed as the elixir to cure what ails society. We can pull back the curtain of the unknown revealing there is nothing to fear.

I have no doubt that face to face social skills, character development, and learning to be a global citizen are more important today than ever before. I’m equally confident today’s learner needs to develop online social skills. What remains to be seen is if we, as an educational community, can conquer our fears, leave behind a 150years of pedagogy, and face the unknown. Not an easy task. I believe we are up to the challenge.


Lauren said...

defintely thought provoking!

Steve said...

The students are social on their own terms. Remember these are the digital natives and we should not knock how they socialize.

Many educators are simply intimidated by the technology. In this case the students actually are the experts. So, why not give them the credit for that knowledge and utilize them to help develop an engaged classroom? Let's move away from the "sage on the stage" and to a more student centered learning environment.

Pub Ed said...

You are right to focus our educational product on the end consumer (i.e. the student) Unfortunately, teachers teach the way they were taught. If we are to break the cycle of poverty we must first work to break the "recycle" of pedagogical practice.

Steve said...

Shift happens regardless of what we desire.

The change has to begin with us. Educators must take a stand and use wisdom over intelligence.
"Wisdom is what's left after we've run out of personal opinions." Cullen Hightower

Pub Ed said...

I believe the shift will happen.

I am saddened that many will be forced to change.

I am hopeful the change happens in my lifetime and that our grandchildren reap the harvest of the fruits we sow.