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Why Do You Ask?

From asking questions that require an answer To asking questions that require a conversation.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Miguel & Will Both Know the Answer

Recent posts from Miguel and Will are not connected to one another, but the answer to their questions is the same. Here are quotes from their posts.

From Miguel who states he "doesn't get" all the Web 2.0, School 2.0, etc. and yet understands the importance of us changing:
What I do get is this: Those granite-rock, plodding, myopic institutions we call schools restrict our creativity. Any effort to reform, to modify, to adapt, these institutions to what needs to be, to what already is, fails. Actually, it's a foul lie. We can't get there from here. Somehow, we want to jump the gap holding on to all our curriculum guides, 3-ring binders, policies and procedures, quaint ways of interacting and meeting and making decisions. But all that must go. We just have to let it go. Let it go. Let it go!
Oh. Another question pops into my head. As an educator, I want to work somewhere where people have let go of fear. To get there, will I have to let go of my steady job? Let go of what passes for traditional career? Let go of...well, you get the idea. After all, the only way to fly with the eagles IS to let go of the branch and FLY.
And from Will who provides his insight to the University of Michigan's new graduate degree in Social Networking.

So, does anyone else find this a little ironic? I mean how in the world would this particular degree “certify” anyone as a social computing specialist any better than, um, spending a year or so just actually becoming a part of social learning network, learning from the various teachers and conversations within it, and building a rich, online portfolio that illustrates your ability to be an online community manager, social network analyst, community organizer or any of the other descriptions they list as possible outcomes? For, um, zero dollars?
The answer to Miguel's question, though admittedly cynical, is because of money. Miguel states that the "steady job" is something he likely would have to give up to pursue the "well, you get the idea." Not many of us can afford to do that. The risk of economic loss is too great. Chris Lehman is not starting schools everywhere :^) And I am not aware of other schools who are willing to let go of the 3-ring binders and jump the gap. I would submit that most schools are unaware there is a gap that needs jumping.

The answer to Will's question, though admittedly cynical, is because of money. Will is an inspiration to many of us. He has done (and continues to do) what many of us would like to be able to do. Although I would really like to see him in the classroom again someday. He is an example of a life-long learner, and he has advocated this for his own children. There is a ring of truth to what Will suggests, that spending a year immersed in social networks will likely provide a better education than the classroom. This has been my experience. However, I do not get a pay raise based on my skills or knowledge in the educational arena. I get a pay raise based on obtaining higher degrees. This is the way it works in education.

Perhaps it is not fair. Perhaps we should be paid based on our attained skills. Perhaps, well, you get the idea. We do not make the jump unless we have some way to ensure our lifestyle is maintained. We get the higher degree, even though we may not learn anything new, because we can increase our income to improve our lifestyle.

I know money is not the end-all, be-all of existence. I know the love of money is the root of all evil. I know money can't buy me love. But I also know the lack of money ain't much fun either.

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At 7:48 PM, Blogger Miguel said...

Ric, we're increasingly seeing examples of people who pursue their passions, their lifelong learning, and manage to cash-in on their social networking connections. In my keynote presentation for New Zealand, I share 4 examples of young men--and women could be a part of that group, too--that found another way...of course, that's 4 out of how many billions of people?

Nevertheless, there is a way to get there from here, but it involves a leap of faith. Will has taken that leap, but I'm not prepared to do so. I have a family I don't want to leave.

And, there are lots of experts on Web 2.0. As the tech gets easier, we'll be forced to fall back on what we communicate, how we collaborate, and it will all be about content and negotiating content understanding in a social way.

But that will happen IN ADDITION to our boring, highly educated day jobs. Are we ready for that? At what point will a degree no longer be, as Dan Pink puts it in referring to Info Age skills, enough?

Thanks for the thoughtful reflection,

Miguel Guhlin
Around the Corner-MGuhlin.net

At 1:14 PM, Blogger Ric Murry said...


You are right. I see more people with the opportunity to jump. The economic factor, to me, is the reason most will not (or can not). The circumstances, usually monetary, must be aligned in order for people to follow their passions.

I also wonder about a "flooding of the market" effect in the future. How many gap jumpers can be sustained by an educational community? The other thing I am concerned about is that if teachers leave the classroom or their full-time educational trenches, might they lose their edge of practicality?

I see David Warlick as the godfather of edtech theory. He has practical experience, but he comes at his craft from an "I wonder what would happen if we did this in the classroom" approach. I like it, and learn from it.

I see Vicki Davis as the godmother of wikis. She is finding a niche in the world-wide collaborative setting as well. But I would miss her practical take on things if/when she jumps the gap...which I expect will happen based on her past history of professions. It is not that I think she would not have something of quality to say, but her strength is in being a pioneer of using the technology in the classroom successfully.

Thanks for the visit, Miguel.


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