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Why Do You Ask?

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

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Engage or Enrage

I still don't like the word "engage" as it relates to a student's attraction to a lesson.  I'm not fully sure why it bothers me...I just don't think the word fits.  I think someone was trying to do the old-timey sermon alliteration, and they had two other words that started with the letter 'E' so "engage" became the word to sell something.

Anyway...

Wes Fryer has done a great job (which is quickly becoming an expectation for many of us - so keep it up!) outling Marc Prensky's recent NCCE speech.  It is Prensky's Engage Me or Enrage Me speech from a couple years ago, but we all need to be reminded of things...especially if we were not engaged the first time through. :-)

Highlights from Wes's notes: followed by my personal reflection of the brief comment in bold italics.

Prensky

Our kids will either cry or laugh at the education we gave them in 2008 [30 years from now].

Our kids are already doing this.  The cry and get sick before color-the-bubble tests because teachers tell them their life depends on how well the kid does on it.

We can do on today’s cell phone what people did with room-sized computers in the 1960s.

This is incorrect in a couple very important ways.  1) Phones are portable, not confined to the room.  2) There is more information available to us today (on the phone) than was available to the room-sized computer.  These two ideas put together make the cell phone more powerful than the 1960 room-size computer.

Quoting Charles Handy: "Walking backward into the future helps us keep looking at familiar things…”

This might become my favorite educational quote.  We tend to do many things bass-ackward.

We can be a big part of the solution to the digital divide...
Almost every student already has a powerful computer
- we are far along with 1:1, because a great percentage of your students has a powerful computer in their pocket: a cell phone
cell phones are
- powerful computers
- inexpensive
What is missing here is often our imagination.

Here, Here...Amen...I hear you talkin'...
What is also missing is the fundamental belief from adults that students can use cell phones responsibly.

I think the digital divide is bridged with the cell phone.  I think the money schools waste on buying computers only to spend more money to filter content to the point of censorship and constitutional violations should be redirected to getting cell phone providers to offer unlimited access to their data networks during school hours.

I believe in open phone tests
The teachers who give open phone tests can ask harder questions
- high school senior said after a presentation: most of our tests are already open phone tests, you guys just don’t know it….

Or move away from the concept that a test is the only way to assess.  The idea that a student would call a parent for the answer to a simplistic, knowledge-based question (like a state capital) is only valuable as a way to assess the student's network.

Metaphor for today’s education
- kids used to grow up in the dark intellectually, until they went to school
- at school we started opening up the door, showing them the light, helping them learn about the world
- so in the past we were the people who showed kids the light

What happens today?
- kids grow up in the light:they are connected with their cell phones, computers, etc
- when they come to school, we make kids turn off all their connections to the LIGHT and essentially make them work again in the darkness

Not a bad metaphor...perhaps could become a good parable.  The dark-light allusion would be better with more character development - at least more than "we" as a descriptor.  I might have something to work on this month...stay tuned.

“I’m bored all day because the teachers
“it’s not attention deficient, I’m just not listening”

From Office Space - It's not that I'm lazy, it's that I just don't care.  On my own kid's Facebook page of favorite quotes.  The not listening aspect of school is as old as education itself.  My concern about the use of technology taught by schools, is that teachers will make the wonderful world of tech as boring as they have history, science, reading, math, and language arts. 

The new paradigm is kids teaching themselves, not all on their own but with the teacher’s guidance
- you don’t even need technology for that, but technology helps.
Technology isn’t the answer
- we are going to have to change how we are teaching before we introduce the technology.

The Everlasting Dream...that kids would just teach themselves.  The teacher will always have to provide more than guidance.  Constructivism works...but only when the student has basic skills, available resources, and motivation.  The teacher might need to study to characteristics of great public speakers.  Revival (religious or otherwise) always occurs on the heals of great oratory.  That is why people are currently enamored with Barak Obama.  Teachers could learn a lot from using YouTube to critically evaluate the great speeches throughout the 20th century. 

I am currently working on how educators/counselors have taken the burden away from themselves by creating a new vocabulary.  Really, we have taken the words motivation and manipulation and talk of intrinsic motivation vs. extrinsic motivation (and tried to get rid of the negative, but effective use of manipulation).  We've done the same with the word discipline (which is from always from within - self-discipline is redundant) and punishment...stay tuned for this one too.

Fryer:
SEEING THIS AGAIN MAKES ME RETHINK MY CURRENT PROFESSIONAL CAREER TRACK. I SEE MOVIES LIKE THIS, AND I WANT TO GO BACK INTO THE CLASSROOM AND FOCUS ON HELPING STUDENTS DO THIS. NOT TALKING ABOUT IT. DOING IT. NOT ENCOURAGING OTHERS TO DO IT. DOING IT. NOT SAYING “WOULDN’T IT BE GREAT IF WE….” DOING IT.

Welcome to my party Wes.  I have spent the last two years out of the classroom.  Prior to that I taught students how to use technology, because that is where we truly were in 2001.  It's time to get back to the Social Studies classroom and go back to the work of teaching.

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