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Shortly after thinking out loud about unpaid principles, I watched the BBC’s streaming of Ophelia. I was reminded of this: 

This above all: to thine own self be true.
Hamlet, Act-1, Scene-III

These was the advice of Polonius to his son, Laertes, as the latter left for Paris.

Like most things, there is more than one way to interpret this quote. The interpretations swing from doing what benefits yourself to doing the right thing. I prefer the latter which is about one’s integrity. 

I risk being unpaid because my principles are not aligned to potential collaborators. I do not wish to fall backward pedagogically nor do I wish to model the wrong values and behaviours as I teach with technology. Is such a value system not valuable?

I heard someone say this in a YouTube video: Artificial intelligence (AI) is no match for natural ignorance (NI).

Artificial intelligence is no match for natural ignorance.

The context for this quote was how Facebook claimed that it had AI that could raise “conflict alerts” of “contentious or unhealthy conversations” to administrators.

Such AI probably uses natural language processing. However, it is no match for nuance, context, and natural human ignorance. The example highlighted in the video was people arguing the merits of various sauces. Case closed.

We do not have to wait for robot overloads to destroy humanity. We are capable of this on our own.

I created an image quote from this tweet. It explains why history repeats itself.

If we bother to study our yesterdays before making judgements about our todays and tomorrows, we might break the pattern that holds us back.

That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history.  — Aldous Huxley

Bums on seats measures the wrong end of the learner. -- Donald Clark

I recreated (image above) an older version of an image quote I made in 2015 (below). It was based on something that Donald Clark wrote about in 2013.

Bums on seats measures the wrong end of the learner.

After watching this video on the claims of a startup wanting to get kids to Zoom in the era of COVID-19, I realised that the quote needs to be updated.


Video source

With classrooms and lecture halls, the administrative measurement of learning is attendance, i.e., bums-in-seats. Online the measure is also attendance, but it is now faces-on-camera.

Now I get that attendance and attention can be the first step in getting student to learn. But that is the low hanging fruit. Learning does not happen just because students are present and accounted for.

Most teachers get that and will use strategies to engage and empower their students. But technologies like the one featured in the video appeal to administrators and to teachers who can only think inside the classroom box.

Learning that is a result of enforced attendance is likely to be fleeting or superficial. Why? The learner does not want to be there and the class does not connect with the student.

Solutions do not lie in forcing attendance even though this might be important administratively, financially, or for policy. They lie in better teacher-student relationships, more progressive teaching strategies, and heightened expectations of the learner.

One change that incorporates all three is well-designed asynchronous learning — they are trust-building exercises, they focus on the teacher meeting the students where they are at, and require students to be more independent.

If we do not change the way we teach or the shift the expectations of what it means to learn, we will not change the way we use technology.

I was reminded of a saying by someone I follow on Twitter:

So I created this image quote as a tribute.

Never wrestle with pigs. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.

The wisdom of the quote is that we should not give up our high ground to gratify a short term urge. The high ground could be moral or ethical. It could also be content expertise or the mastery of skill.

But first it is important to be certain that we actually have the high ground. How do we know? Our qualifications and character are fundamental. But what matters in the long run is our reputational capital, the backing of rigorous research, critical and reflective practice, and the humility to keep learning.

High ground is obvious to us and those who observe us. A bubble is obvious only to you.

I have not made an image quote in a while, so here is one that is particularly relevant today. It is from author Douglas Adams.

“Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.”  — Douglas Adams

Adams’ observation holds true when you consider how some governments seemed to not learn from the mistakes of others when dealing with SARS-COV-2.

The same could be said about how some in schooling and education choose not to learn from the experience of more informed others. They would rather make the same mistakes or invent new ones.

I would be tempted to say that learning from one’s mistakes is a powerful way to learn. The problem is some refuse to learn and others suffer as a result.

Call me humourless, but I agree with the sentiment below.

I can see why the “joke” works — it is the juxtaposition of bad grammar with what a teacher stands for. At the root of the insult is the oft cited: Those who can, do; those who can’t teach.

Just because lay folk have been in classrooms in their childhoods does not make them knowledgeable about what it is like to be on the opposite site of the desk. I challenge any non-teacher who thinks that teaching is easy to teach and facilitate for an extended period.

Teaching is a science and an art. As a science, its elements can be theorised, studied, experimented on, and tested. It is a social science that combines assorted fields of study like psychology, philosophy, cognition, planning, management, and evaluation. As an art, it needs to be practiced, modelled, and changed based on reflection, feedback, and empathy for learners.

Are there bad teachers? Of course there are. No job or profession has a perfect population. But teaching tends to attract individuals who are nurturing and passionate about learners and learning. Where is the pithy mug quote for that?

I can relate to this quote. I am rudely reminded of it whenever I try to reason with administrators or policy makers in order to facilitate change.

I am a Ph.D. doctor and I educate whether I am inside or outside a class. Some of the outside class education is trying to talk sense to administrators or policy makers who cannot empathise with educators or learners.

I should know better by now. When they think in dollars or walk in spreadsheet cells, they are the walking dead. I should ignore the zombies and focus on the living.

I was not the first to point this out. Unfortunately, I will not be the last.

I cannot remember when I first started using this phrase: We have 21st century learners taught by 20th century teachers in 19th century classrooms. I can point to one of my keynote slides that someone put on Pinterest.

Searching my Google Presentations, I found a keynote slide in 2016, another keynote slide in 2014, and a presentation for a Google event in 2012.

I will stop saying this the day it no longer is true. In the mean time, I offer a slightly different quote.

We still have 21st century learners taught by 20th century teachers in 19th century classrooms.

I read this recent tweet and decided to make an image quote out of some of it.

The eyes see and the ears hear what’s already in the mind. Our perception becomes our reality. Sometimes learning is the easy part. It’s the unlearning that’s hard. — Amy Fast

Unlearning is hard. With older learners, unlearning is often prerequisite to learning. Old habits die hard, if at all. You must break before you can make.

In edu-speak, we might point out the importance of deconstructing before constructing. If we encourage learners to build on the wrong foundations or with questionable materials, we are at fault for rushing with the building instead of starting with the tedious work of deconstructing.


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