Another dot in the blogosphere?


Posted on: May 21, 2016

There is nothing remarkable about the number 27. However, today “27” is significant to me because it marks the number of years my wife and I have been together.

Last year I told our story with my reflection 13+13=26. Today we mark a milestone: We have been married longer (14 years) than we were a couple before that (13 years).

I actually met my wife a little over 30 years ago. We only started dating when I was in the military. As I explained last year, our journeys to different parts of the world and in personal lives kept us both apart and together.

This year also marks our tenth year back in Singapore. We have been very fortunate to have lived elsewhere, to travel regularly, and to be able to adopt different perspectives.

In reaching these milestones, I wondered what perspective I might share. Several weeks ago I found this quote from a parody Twitter account of comedian Will Ferrell:

Before you marry a person, you should first make them use a computer with slow Internet to see who they really are.

When my wife and I first met, all we had was slow computers and barely there Internet. There was no Google, Facebook, YouTube, or Netflix. We had to actually talk to each other and look each other in the face. Horrors!

This is not a trip down nostalgia lane. Thirty years ago was the Internet Dark Ages. Trying to get any information or learning on your own happened at dialup modem speed, if at all. Horrors!

As I observe how kids learn today, I notice how they still have more access to today’s Internet at home than they have at school. No doubt that there are 1:1 and BYOD schools. But there are many more 30-year-old (or older) Internet access schools today. This is not because schools are not wired up and wireless. Instead policies and practices remain rooted in the past.

This is not to say that our schooling has not changed over a generation. Our assessment system is continuously poked and prodded, our curricula revised, and our pedagogy more student-centred.

But our children’s classroom of today is instantly recognisable to an adult. Most parents and teachers cannot see a school without legacy practices like homework, curricula, objectives, tests, etc. Their mindsets and practice are still powered by “computers with slow Internet”. All this while they cradle blazingly fast and hyperconnected computers in their hands.

Being with my wife for 27 years seems to have gone by like a blink of an eye. Observing the schooling system here struggle with change from my vantage point of teacher and teacher educator is like watching frozen molasses move.

Every day I ask myself how I might shape conditions to switch the speed of those circumstances. I want my happy years to feel like years; I do what I can to make the schooling system to be “broadband” or “smartphone” for the sake of all our kids.

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