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When I read that coding is “compulsory for all upper primary pupils next year”, I had questions. I was not the only one.

I had more basic questions.

Furthermore, how do policymakers and implementers distinguish coding from authoring and computational thinking? How might computational thinking be integrated into current subjects instead of being an “enrichment”?

If we consider the SAT, the prime test for entrance to US universities, what does that test actually measure?

The video below provides insights into the history and design of the SAT.


Video source

It concludes with this sobering thought:

The SAT was created in the pursuit of precision. An effort to measure what we’re capable of — to predict what we can do. What we might do. What we’ve forgotten is that, often, that can’t be untangled from where we’ve been, what we’ve been through, and what we’ve been given.

The same could be said about practically any other academic test taken on paper.

This refrain might seem old, but it should be seen as timeless instead — correlation is not causation.

Case in point, the article embedded in the tweet highlighted how you can correlate almost anything with enough data and participants. Just because eating potatoes is correlated with “negative” technology use does not mean that one causes the other.

The use and integration of everyday and educational technologies are not monolithic. They are complex phenomena that cannot be reduced to soundbites or clickbait.

As the author pointed out in his article, if one is to explore the possibilities and problems in this wide field, one has to first be a student of cognitive development, epistemology, sociology, moral philosophy, etc. And yet these are so easily circumnavigated by a combination of misplaced correlation and fear of change.

About a week ago I ignored (yet again) another small deluge of demands that I give my Twitter handle to someone else.

I ignored and blocked the noise because I have found those strategies to be effective against people who do not listen or read.

One such person declared that someone else deserved my Twitter handle because I had fewer followers than them.

I do not play that number game because I prevent people from following me by blocking them. I used to have to estimate how many until this week. I discovered that the latest version of the Twitter app shows my block count — it is over 33K.

I have blocked bots, spammers, and people who mistake me for someone else. I go on a blocking binge every month or so. This might seem like a foolish thing to do. But if I believe in curating my account as an educator, I need to practice what I preach.

I focused on the word “community” when I read the tweet below.

I reflected on how the word if often cited but rarely understood. I am all for the practice of having communities to drive conversation and learning. I am not for misusing the term or empty rhetoric.

I know what the tweet is getting at — the energy and the positivity that people can get from one another. However, having “community” does not automatically result in something positive. Racism is driven by community.

Pokèmon Go is not driven by a single community. Every country has communities of players. Three years into the game, there are small but positive communities of fans with deep knowledge and trainers who play with family.

Over that same time, and in Singapore in particular, are communities of spoofers and shavers, selfish and territorial players, the ignorant but loud, etc.

Lest I sound judgmental, one need only play the game casually and interact with others for a while to anecdotally find these communities.

Such communities are face-to-face and in Facebook. There is some policing and moderating online, but it hard to hide ugly behaviour in person.

This is not to say that there are no nice people. There are, but they can be hard to find or do not last long. The “community” mentioned in the tweet were ardent players who were selected for and had the means to make it to the event.

My point is that using “community” ignores that there is more than one group. Groups of PoGo players are heterogeneous. Painting all with a broad stroke called “community” does not cover all the cracks or imperfections in the wall.

One of the podcast channels I have recently subscribed is No Such Thing As A Fish. It is helmed by the fact-finding team behind the QI television series.

I have been binging the series in reverse order and recently listed to episode 244 No Such Thing As A Fishman (iTunes) (Spotify).
 

 
Stephen Fry made a guest appearance and shared his thoughts on how warped our thinking can sometimes be. He described how we do not seem to take offence to violence but vilify basic body functions.
 

 
Around the seven-minute mark, he mentioned how we think nothing of phrases like “Traffic was murder!” but might consider “It was shitting bad traffic!” as rude.

The juxtaposition was ridiculous, I LOL’d anyway, and I got his point. It was a matter of questioning one’s perspective.

If we are to nurture more empathetic learners, we should not just deluge them with the experiences and cultures of “others”. We also need to help them explore and question their own biases and standards. If we cannot look past ourselves, how are we to gain insights into others?

There is a somewhat cynical saying that youth is wasted on the young. It tries to point out that the energy of youth is not often matched by the directions it takes.


Video source

We celebrated Youth Day yesterday. Coincidentally I caught this video on YouTube. It was an effort by youth for youth to spread the message about climate change.

The effort was commendable, but it was opposed by adults who could not look beyond themselves. Youth is not always wasted on the young. It is sometimes wasted by the old.

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