PLN Education Blog
My journey of learning digital literacy, establishing a personal learning network, and becoming a qualified 21st century teacher.
Watching Logan LaPlante (2013), I had a slew of questions and by the end I was not sure exactly what to think. initially I chose the video so that I could finally hear from a student, and learn what a student thinks about the education. LaPlante's (2013) presence on stage is quiet impressive, period. I was hooked when he had me at happy and healthy, I could not agree more with this sentiment. There is a problem in this society, one where mental health is still a taboo and we dare not discuss it publicly. Mental health is a "family issue" something to be dealt with in private. It is time for that mentality to change, and I do believe that schools should have a responsibility in teaching students how to be happy and healthy. We know that the issues are there. Childhood obesity. Bullying. Eating disorders. Depression. Suicide. These are issues that span across culture, socioeconomic status, race. As a future science teacher, these are all topics that I think can seamlessly be woven into the curriculum, and are probably more important and pertinent than many of the standards. However, as I listened to this young man and payed attention to the examples he used, I wondered how much of his experience has been molded by his parents, and the opportunities that they have afforded his. With talk of hacking school, you have to have the support system in place to help the students thrive and flourish. But if you are worried about putting the next meal on the table, how much time can you invest in exploring alternatives to schooling that will be suit your child's needs? When I think about reform of the school system, I think of reforming for the students who are left behind. Students who don't have the parental support, due to lack of time because of work or lack of interest, might not reap the benefits from hackschooling. Those same students can reap enormous benefits from learning how to be happy and healthy. Learning about these alternative school systems really makes me wonder about the how. How are you going to guarantee that this will be equitable? How are you going to ensure that each child is given a fair shot? I love to hear the success story, but we need to keep in mind that people like Bill Gate and Mark Zuckerberg are not the norm when looking at college dropouts.... They are the exception. So when we look to radically change a system, maybe it will benefit some, but that does not ensure success for all.
[TEDxTalks]. (2013, Feb 12). Hackschooling makes me happy-Logan LaPlante-TEDxUniversityofNevada. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h11u3vtcpaY
Just when I think I am making progress and opening my mind, I encounter an idea that stops me in my tracks and really makes me think. This is definitely the case after watching Shawn Cornally in his TEDx Eastside Prep talk "The Future of Education Without Coercion" (2011). Let me start off by saying that I was absolutely engaged in his presentation, and found his passion to be palpable. And I have no doubt that his students are the beneficiaries of his enthusiasm. And I absolutely agree that students are in a system that is not best suited to all of their needs or learning styles, and that the A-F system that is currently in place is often not a fair representation of a student. But there are places that he lost me, and I am not sure if that is a reflection of me (a product of the current system) or if there are more questions that need to be answered. The idea of having student centered curriculum, and allowing students to explore and demonstrate their knowledge is a wonderful idea. But are all students really going to fit that model? I really believe that there are students who thrive in the current system, and it fits the way that they learn and are receiving vast benefits from the rewards of a good grade. There are also students who would flourish if their creativity was celebrated, and they could demonstrate their learning through products. And then there are students who do not fit either of these descriptions. A change to the system does not necessarily mean that we throw out the old and adopt something new as Cornally (2011) has suggested. You are replacing one system for a new one with a shiny new package. We also have to consider what the role of school really is, and where it fits in society. Considerations of parents and societal norms have to be considered. Comparing school grades to dollars, in my mind, is a good analogy. We get an education, often times, to improve our odds of getting a good job. Do I love learning? Absolutely! And I got an education so that I can work AND do something that I love. But that paycheck is an important driver in why I went back to school. We can give students more freedom in their education, and I think it is important for students to have the chance to pursue topics that interest them. But I also think that structure and learning that you are rewarded for hard work and sometimes you have to follow rules and complete projects you do not want to are also important real world skills. Then again, maybe I have just been a part of the system for too long....
[TEDx Talks]. (2011, Jun 7). TEDxEastsidePrep-Shawn Cornally-The Future of Education Without Coercion. [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPeKdXhGcZQ
The Ted talk presented by Michael Wesch was both powerful and poignant. In it he expertly argued how the way we consume media has shifted from the time of the television to the connected media world of the internet. His explanation of the media in the television era as being unidirectional, with people having little influence, was a point I have never really considered. I grew up in an era that relied on the television to provide the most current information, and rarely considered what my role was in the process. On the other side of the coin is the ever connected internet media world of today. Wesch (2010) included a powerful example of how a "spoof" commercial led to a meeting between Green Peace and the Unilever company to halt the destruction of rain forests. What I enjoyed most about the presentation, and the point at which I really began to understand and agree with Wesch, was when he pointed out that while the internet may allow us to connect, organize, share, collect, collaborate, and publish easily this is just the surface level and it does not mean that we can do this well or in a meaningful manner. In some ways it is so easy, the internet allows for careless and reckless abuse of the powers.
The concept Wesch presents of being knowledge-able, and that as teachers we are responsible for teaching knowledge-ability, is one that I fully support. As a future science educator, with a passion for ecology, I think that there are ideas that would lend themselves well to the classroom environment. Science intrinsically requires collecting, organizing, sharing, collaborating, and publishing. The internet has proven to be a wonderful place for the scientific community. One of the greatest roles that I have as a science educator is to teach my students how and where to look on the internet for reputable sources. These are the places that all of the above actions are taking place. In addition, I think that students can learn to make their voice heard. One of the reasons I want to teach science is so that the next generation is equipped to answer the questions and challenges that we are currently facing, not to mention many more that may arise in the years to come. Students live in the world on fire, and I want to be an agent of change that can show students they can be the little bird that saves the world. This means teaching students how to question and where to look for their answers. My ultimate goal is to have students who are equipped with the skills needed to make meaningful connections, efficiently organize, expertly and respectfully share and collaborate, and hopefully publish meaningful contributions to the global conversation. Having access to the wealth of the worlds knowledge is not sufficient, it is the goal of educators to give students the tools to use the knowledge to save the world.
[TEDx Talks]. (2010, October 12). TEDxKC-Michael Wesch- From Knowledgeable to Knowledge-able. [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LeaAHv4UTI8