Another dot in the blogosphere?

Posts Tagged ‘past

After I took this snapshot, I thought: Change does not mean the past goes away.

The past often fades into the background. It comes back into focus when someone notices it or waxes nostalgia.

The past is not irrelevant. It might serve as a backdrop or foundation for what we do or believe in.

But the past should not dominate or dictate. A backdrop without actors is not a play; a foundation without infrastructure above is not a building.

In edtech, the history of technology in schooling and education provides many warnings. One is that the tools change while the techniques do not. This means that the tools are not used optimally.

If the medium changes without the method, we see only the veneer of change. To see what change really looks like, we need to dig into mindset. This takes immersion, not a drive-by visit.

Like it or not, this tweet can be interpreted more than one way.

Tweet about school.

It could mean that the school as a physical building literally houses and protects a future generation.

It could also mean that the school is a social structure that shapes the future. What the future looks like depends on the changes implemented now.

A third perspective is that the future — the students and what they do — is walled in by the past. If we are realistic, the implied optimism of the tweet needs to be balanced with this:

We might think of schooling as teaching the prior generation's knowledge so that youth are prepared to communicate on an equal footing with those they are about to join in the economic and civic spheres. -- Robert Pondiscio

I read a tweet like this and the linked article more critically than most.

I am glad that the school is doing something different, but is it doing something qualitatively better?

As much as maker spaces seem to be the flavour of the moment, how many school authorities have asked themselves whether they need such spaces to make?

Why are students not already making and creating in mainstream curriculum? Unless extremely dangerous or specialised, why must these activities only happen in special spaces or rooms?

In April I questioned the validity and purpose of maker spaces. Others more articulate than me have blogged about the same issues.

Why is the whole school not a maker space?

Is much of the curriculum and practice driven by design thinking, exploring, tinkering, learning from mistakes, and reiterating?

Does a maker space help school leaders and teachers question the assumptions of schooling?

Can having a maker space for robotics or coding really be setting sail to the future while the rest of schooling is anchored in the past?
 

A popular hashtag on Instagram seems to be #tbt, which is short for throwback Thursdays. People share old photos of themselves and tag them #tbt or #tbthursday.

This was me more than 40 years ago at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. The photo brings back memories — this one was being terrified — but they tend to be faded just like the photo.

The same thing does not seem to happen to a blog though.

One of the nice things about having an edublog is finding out what people are learning from it.

Once a day I check to see what entries people are accessing. Every day I find a nugget that someone else or a group of people decided was useful.

For example, a few days ago I rediscovered something I wrote in 2014, Should tweets be graded? Someone had Googled it and I had forgotten I had even written it.

Occasionally a group decides that an entry is thought-provoking and it will spike my WordPress statistics. This happened recently with a 2013 entry, Security-minded?

This reminded me why I blog fleeting thoughts every day:

  1. I blog to remember because my mind is designed to forget
  2. One of the best ways to learn is to reflect
  3. My blog is a living portfolio
  4. What is old to me is new to someone else
  5. What I share now might help someone else later
  6. I can see how my thoughts have changed, if at all
  7. I learn from my younger self, when I was pushed to think about an issue

Occasionally, someone reads what I write and asks me to do a talk or workshop, or to provide consulting services. So blogging also opens doors.

But that is not the main reason why I blog. The blasts from the past remind me that I want to open up my mind critically to new things and hope others do the same to theirs.

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This Sunday’s quote is courtesy of this tweet:

Tomorrow's educational progress cannot be determined by yesterday's 'successful' performance.

The quote is another way of saying that we cannot rest on our laurels.

If we do, we will get a bum rash and that will affect the way we walk. That in turn will prevent us from moving forward as well as we should. That is not implied in the quote and is something I visualise.

Yesterday’s practice was to just use the photo. Today’s is to give credit where it is due. The original image was a CC-licensed photo.

This is a video of people on the brink of adulthood who did not know how to rip music from a CD and transfer the soundtracks to a digital music player.


Video source

Why? They no longer need this skill because the technology has changed. Within their lifetime digital music has evolved from ripping CDs to downloading MP3s to streaming music from the cloud.

If you asked a representative group of teachers to watch this, how many would demand that CD ripping be part of curriculum? None would because it would sound ridiculous. No one would be up in arms about it the same way they would get emotional about, say, writing in cursive.

We write for a number of reasons, among them to express and to communicate. Some learners find it difficult to overcome basic barriers to writing.

Untidy handwriting is one. If a reader cannot decipher handwriting, the writer cannot be understood. Schools enable that barrier because they do not embrace typing, voice recognition software, or other forms of digital expression.

Another barrier to good communication is poor spelling, grammar, and sentence construction. Modern word processing software and programmes created to assist writers with special needs can reduce or remove this barrier.

However, such basic solutions to relatively low level barriers to writing are not more common in classrooms. Kids are still required to write by hand because schools embrace pen and pencil technology instead of Internet-related technology. Only Finland seems to be moving forward with typing as writing.

No one romanticizes lost skills like milking cows by hand because the vast majority of us do not need to thanks to technology. I would argue that most kids will not need to hand write much or even at all when they are working adults.

They will need to write logically and coherently in non-paper exam contexts. They will need to process huge amounts of information in a very short time and work with very different people they might have never met in person. They will need better and new written communication skills. How many schools refocus curricula to these?

What I just described is not a future scenario; it is already happening and needed now. What holds us back is our perspective of the problem.

Adults and teachers often look at things through the lens of “in my time” nostalgia. Nostalgia is like grammar: It makes the past perfect and the present tense.

The past is certain because we already know already happened. It is also rose-tinted and rose-scented because our memories are biased. The future might seem uncertain, but that is only the case if we choose not to shape it now.

In twenty years, we will look back at schooling. Will we wonder why we had to do the equivalent of ripping CDs or will that still be the norm? Or might we be enjoying the fruits of sowing and harvesting from the cloud?


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