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Posts Tagged ‘old

Instructing recruits circa 1989.

I unearthed a photograph taken in 1989 of me when I was an infantry officer. It had decolourised so much that I converted it to greyscale so that it looks less terrible.

That year marked my first official stint as an instructor. My corporals and I were teaching recruits how to dig shell scrapes and use them as cover.

Several memories flooded back, but two in particular are lessons that I have remembered since that time. The first was how objective data can become subjective according to the whims of higher-ups. The second was that doing nothing sometimes is doing something.

To give me something to write about, I reflect on these lessons over the next two days.

Twenty four. That is the number of classic Google Sites that I cannot transition to new Sites. These were created by someone else and shared with me, but I do not have administrative rights to update them.

My screenshot shows 22 such sites, but there are two more that are domain-locked and not included in my list.

According to this support article, as of January 2022 “when users try to visit a classic site, they won’t see the website content.” This is Google-speak for classic Google Sites are dead, so you have to use new Google Sites.

I wish my previous collaborators would update the classic Sites to new ones. Each site takes a few clicks and about one minute to complete the whole process. It would be a shame for all that shared knowledge to be hidden because people do not know or care.

Sharing takes effort. Sometimes it involves going against institutional policy. Sometimes it is a minor inconvenience. Converting classic Google Sites to the new version is the latter. Just do it.


Video source

When I watched this TED-Ed video last week, I thought about ways of thinking, i.e., old, new, and current.

Using the seasonal disappearance of birds as an example, one old theory was that birds transformed into other creatures.

A new theory was that the birds hibernated. While this was true of just a few birds, it did not apply to all.

Our now current knowledge is that those birds migrate seasonally. This is backed up by data and the phenomenon can be confirmed repeatedly and reliably with the aid of technology.

We have old, new, and current theories on how people learn and the virus that causes COVID-19. While those two examples seem incomparable, they share the facts that:

  • The old theories are almost comical because they rely on superficial observation.
  • The new theories have some support, but are not generalisable.
  • The current theories have broad support because they are tested rigorously by research and practice.

 
This opinion piece suggested that teachers and educators had to play new roles in the COVID-19 era, specifically, health promoters, ICT champions, and social workers.

If you read the piece with an outsider’s perspective, the writer’s arguments and examples seem sound. But they are not airtight.

Any current mainstream school teacher can tell you that they already had those roles pre-COVID. It is just that the roles were not as obvious or that one role in particular — ICT champion — was easy to mostly ignore. All this means that the roles are not new. They might be renewed or more obvious to parents now, but they are not novel.

But focusing on the roles of teachers does the opinion piece a disservice. I blame part of the headline (Teachers now have new jobs) and the relegation of the more important message to the last third of the article. The COVID era has exposed our efforts in creating equitable schooling and education, and it has forced us to question if students are “truly digital natives”.

The same news site has articles highlighting how many students had to be given or lent devices and data dongles [example]. The struggles of learning from home, even with adequate technology, also indicates how being “digitally native” is a misnomer. Being savvy does not guarantee that students know how to learn or why they need to learn something.

If the article was to stay true to the remainder of its headline that “Schools will never be normal again after COVID-19”, it could have also avoided uncritical tropes and media-speak, e.g., catering to learning styles. Learning styles have been [debunked].

We do not need things to return to normal again if that means not crrically questioning sacred cow practices. I say we cull old and diseased bovines like busy work as homework, early starts that favour bus driver schedules, and high stakes exams.

 
Maybe it is age catching up on me, but I still feel drained from facilitating a four-hour class yesterday.

Maybe I am more used to three-hour modules or workshops. That seems to be the norm and I have forgotten what is it like to play in overtime.

Maybe I should factor in travel time. Depending on where the class is, it takes an hour to an hour-and-a-half each way on public transport. Surely that hustle and bustle has an impact.

Maybe it is because I make it a point to arrive at least an hour before class to rearrange the physical environment of the classroom, check the lighting, and test all audio-video systems.

Maybe it is simply the accumulation of preparatory work and the sheer energy of facilitating over just didactic teaching that consumes my energy.

Maybe I should not overthink it — I am just getting old.

I love the Pessimist Archive podcast. I hate that there are so few episodes. But I appreciate how much work it takes to create each one.

I have not been listening to the podcasts in the order they were made because I jumped on whatever interested me first. A standout phrase in episode 1 from host Jason Feifer was this: The best antidote to fear of the new is looking back at fear of the old.

So I made an image quote of it.

The best antidote to fear of the new is looking back at fear of the old. -- Jason Feifer

We cannot claim to be teachers or educators unless we have been, and continue to be, students first. What seems like new problems the students experience or bring into the classroom often has old roots.

We can deal with the symptoms or we can tackle the causes. The key to understanding our new fears is having a mind open enough to learn from history.

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To paraphrase a Biblical reference: You cannot put new wine in old wineskins. If you do not get that reference, you should also not get why people do this.

Old ideas applied to new technologies make both look ridiculous. And yet we keep repeating that mistake.

New technologies might make current processes better. But we should also be looking for what they enable, i.e., what we thought previously difficult or impossible to do.

Applied to schooling, edtech should be about enabling new possibilities, not entrenching old habits. If we ignore that approach, we risk looking as foolish as the VR soccer players.

As I start 2019, I am reminded of advice a veteran teacher gave me when I was a novice: Begin as you see yourself continuing. It was her way of telling me to pace myself.

Begin as you see yourself continuing.

It was also another way of saying sort out your priorities and set your path right early on. A veteran teacher has the benefit of hindsight — it is much harder to change later than sooner.

Harder, but not impossible. Early on, my guiding principles were simple; they could be boiled down to single words. Learner. Changer. Troublemaker.

I am relying on old beginnings to keep me energised for consulting opportunities I have lined up for 2019. I am beginning as I see myself continuing.

I started making image quotes with Google Presentations in May 2015. I called that early series quotable quotes.

My current tool of choice is pablo.buffer.com and I now CC attribute the images more precisely.

This week I am revisiting some of the older image quotes and updating them. The first update is one of my favourites:

We do not stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.

My original image quotable quote was:
We do not stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.

I created this image quote in 2015 after reading a variant of the words attributed to George Bernard Shaw.

We do not stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.

But with every axiom comes exceptions.


Video source

According to the research cited in this video, age is a factor at the highest levels of video gaming.

However, this does not invalidate the principle that we do not have to outgrow curiosity, a sense of fun, or risk-taking. Older gamers also learn to metagame — they devise strategies to compensate for split second slowness.


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