Sunday, January 27, 2013
Blog Assignment #2
Did You Know? 3.0 - A John Strange 2012 Version Revised Sept 2012
No, I did not know. I did not know India has more K-12 honors students than all of the K-12 students in the United States. I did not know so much of the Chinese population is learning English to the point that they will outnumber other English speaking nations. I did not know the top jobs 10 years from now do not exist yet and will use technologies that have not yet been invented. I did not know the statistics regarding the use of YouTube, Google Search, SMS messages, nor regarding the ownership of computers in homes and cell phones. The initial response is to think, "Wow," or "Interesting," or "Hhmm." But the greater question is what does all this mean? What does this mean not only locally but globally? Whether it is to admire or criticize, imitate or destroy, other nations are continually looking at America. Sadly most Americans don't know their own current events, but probably know who sang on American Idol this week.
What is my role in preparing students for the jobs of 2022 or 2023? Regardless of what future job a student gets, the student must be able to communicate well, read and write, problem solve, and be productive. The student must have good analytical and critical thinking skills. If the person works for someone else, the person must be profitable to the company or the company will hire someone else who is. Businesses are in business to make money, not just pay salaries and wages.
The skills I mentioned will be necessary for the jobs I believe will still exist in 10 years. Someone must grow our food, repair our vehicles, build our roads and homes and commercial buildings. Someone must provide medical care for us and our pets. Someone must write, sing, dance, act, preach, fish, manufacture, paint, design, govern, pilot, drive. Regarding jobs that do not exist yet, students must possess skills necessary to fulfill those jobs. Those same skills will apply, along with flexibility and ability to adapt well to change. And no, I am not ready to be an educator. I am still being educated on educating.
Mr. Winkle Wakes film
Mathew Needleman created, on the surface, a very cute video obviously inspired by Rip Van Winkle. Mr. Winkle is just so cute. He awakens after sleeping for 100 years. He sees too much change. He sees technology he never dreamed of. Pun intended. He feels sick and goes to the hospital only to be surrounded by more of these strange machines making unfamiliar sounds. Thinking he could not get well in this kind of hospital, he left and walked on and on. He saw a school and went inside. It was instantly familiar with teachers lecturing all day long and students taking notes. There was "no intrusion from the outside world." But there was a dusty computer sitting in the back of the room. He found it "comforting to know even after 100 years some things still stay the same way."
Rather than suddenly waking up like Mr. Winkle, I find my eyes gradually adjusting to the bright light. What I struggle with is reconciling learning technology but not just for the sake of learning it, but actually using it to perform a worthwhile task. If I learn all the working parts of my oven but never use it to actually bake some food, who cares? Likewise, I do not want to be like Mr. Winkle and run away from technology altogether because of discomfort, fear, or unfamiliarity.
Sir Ken Robinson
Sir Ken Robinson is my kind of public speaker. He mixes humor, wit, and insight. He thoroughly held my attention. I would like to explore more of his speeches. His main argument is that public education systems are killing our children's creativity. Around the world, Arts Education is at the bottom of the list. I am all for creativity however, for example, 2 + 2 will always equal 4. Any other answer is just plain wrong. Which leads into Sir Robinson's point that being wrong is not the same thing as being creative. Being wrong is being wrong as in my simple addition example with any answer than 4. However, he says, "If you are not prepared to be wrong you will not come up with anything original." Which leads to the question of the definition and necessity of creativity.It is common to only think of creativity as pertaining to the Arts. However, engineering, designing, and inventing require creativity.
Sir Robinson says that the point of public education is to produce university professors. "They are the people that come out on the top. We shouldn't hold them up to the high water mark of all human achievement. They're just a form of life." Personally, I think Christian missionaries are an example of high human achievement. I consider hospice caregivers another example. Filling our brains so we become human encyclopedias has no value if knowledge is the only goal. As I stated earlier, we will always need farmers, mechanics, builders, hair stylists, etc. Every student is not college material and every career does not require college experience. I know small business owners who never went to college, and after paying their taxes, still make a ton more money than a college graduates. But there again, money is also not the high water mark of all human achievement. Noteable, these same business owners have had to be self educators and took the initiative to find out what is necessary to be successful.
Regarding schools, the future, and change, I know change is inevitable. The question is how quickly and what type of change will or should occur? Many schools already use so much technology. Having computers in every classroom is no surprise nowadays. The current problem I am aware of is abuse of cell phones by students. They text, use social media, and cheat during school hours. The floodgates are open.
Perhaps on the elementary level, the level I am interested in teaching, cell phones are not as much an issue. Preparing lessons and teaching lessons, with a SmartBoard or a chalk board, do not intimidate me in the least. I continually worry as I visualize bad behavior. I don't know how technology will help this other than to hope it will engage the students so there will be less time or opportunity to misbehave. We know that during Mr. Winkle's visit to the school, he observed lectures and note taking all day, but we do not know if the students misbehaved. Maybe they were too bored to consider misbehaving.
Pinterest could be very useful as a teacher because of the ability to save things to my "board." Pinterest is a great way to organize, share, and search for anything. I chose to follow Charity Preston's Technology board. At the bottom of her page, she has free SmartBoard files. That immediately caught my eye. I am of the mindset that I do not want to reinvent the wheel, so borrowing a wheel is a great option. By having a SmartBoard in the classroom, Pinterest could be accessed for the whole class to see. From there videos, activities, and charts can be used.
While signing up for Pinterest for this assignment, I found the procedure is different from just a few months ago. It offered a lot more choice up front rather to the user, rather than Pinterest randomly assigning me boards to follow which I then had to frustratedly "unfollow. " It seems Pinterest has already improved which is a credit to this quickly changing world of technology.