Fits & Fugues

Education can be so much more.

David Warlick Keynote -4.21.08

Today, as part of some ongoing staff development, our district is hosting David Warlick who will be doing a keynote and several roundtable sessions. Pardon the writing as I took notes during the presentation.

From the keynote…

One of the things I appreciated immediately was that he set up a blog entry with some links that he would be referencing through his keynote. During the keynote, David Warlick brought all the tech down to the level of students and teachers. That’s his mission, passion, and purpose. It’s not about the stuff; it’s about making meaning and making education meaningful.

Web Sites

Items of Note

  • Information has changed. What it looks like and what you can do with it and how we interact with it.
  • We’re spending too much time teaching our kids to use paper.
  • We’re preparing our kids for the future they are going to invent. We know almost nothing about the future we are preparing them for. “For the first time in history our jobs as educators is to prepare our children for a future that we cannot clearly describe.”
  • We should stop integrating teachnology and integrate literacy. Being suspicious about the information they find. Investigate and become a digital detective.
  • If all we have taught our kids is how to read, are they literate or dangerous? Adults were taught to read what was handed to us. Our kids are not reading this way. They are reading in a global electronic environment.
  • We can’t rely on the gatekeepers to be the sentries of information. It must become a personal skill.
  • Find information, decode it, critically evaluate it, organize it into personal libraries.
  • We should not just develop literacy skills, but literacy habits.
  • We should not just develop lifelong learning, but a learning lifestyle.

Keynote Centerpiece

Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic expand our notions of what it means to be literate by

  • Exposing what is true
  • Employing information
  • Expressing ideas compellingly
  • Ethics -The thread that weaves all of them together

A compelling quote, “We will have achieved educational reform when no teacher believes they can teach the same thing the same way every time.”

I’m ready to learn more in the roundtable sessions…

 

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April 21, 2008 Posted by | Education, Technology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tradition and Change in Anatevka

Here in Anatevka, we have traditions for everything. How to sleep. How to eat. How to work. How to wear clothes. -Tevye, Fiddler on the Roof

I recently saw Fiddler on the Roof at one of our local high schools.  The production amazed me; it was much better than the 1988 version I performed in high school. I took my son and as we spoke about the themes of the show on the way home, a few things struck me.

First, The show starts with the song Tradition. This song establishes everyone’s roles and the part they have to play in the community. It clearly defines the rules and perspective: “Because of our traditions, we’ve kept our balance for many, many years,” and “And because of our traditions, every one of us knows who he is and what God expects him to do.”

Immediately after Tradition, we meet Tevye’s five daughters and his wife, Golde, waiting for the matchmaker who is about to fulfill her traditional role in assisting the girls’ parents in arranging the eldest daughter’s, Tzeitel’s, marriage. Of course Tzeitel bristles at the thought of the arranged marriage; this being complemented with the arrival of Motel, the poor tailor, Tzeitel’s true love interest. Love, however, has no bearing on the choice of spouse, but this is about to change. The three eldest daughters will each choose for themselves a husband, each moving further and further away from established traditions until the thrid daughter elopes and marries outside of her “kind” and completely outside of her traditions.

The play sets two dichotomies against each other: Tradition and Change. These parallel education today. The play has multiple connecting points of application throughout, but the central themes of tradition and change are the most salient.

Our very traditional educational system has poignant illustrations in two of Tevye’s lines in Tradition  (one modified slightly) : “Because of our traditions, we’ve kept our balance for many, many years,” and “And because of our traditions, every one of us knows who he is and what [he is expected] to do.” Now, however, we find that we are off balance and many of us are seeking to discern our new roles in light of traditional, not necessarily wrong, expectations. We are still expected to educate our kids and prepare them for their uncertain futures; that hasn’t changed. The traditional ways of doing so must. Unfortunately, our concept of “school” is defined within the traditional boundaries of school where education is dispensed by a highly qualified expert during specific times of the day and year to arbitrarily sorted groups of disengaged learners craving relevance.

We’ve been arranging these educational marriages for so long that it has become our traditional definition of education.  To conceptualize education any other way seems “unheard of” and “impossible” as Tevye sang on more than one occasion as two of his daughters presented him with husbands of their choosing. Like Tevye, attempts to change the tradition are often met with stalwart opposition in the name of upholding tradition. The Tradition refrain winds its way through the course of the play like many themes in education. As Tzeitel begs to be released from the artificial betrothment bargain Tevye has made Lazar Wolf, we beg to be released from the artificial structure of seat time equating to learning. Anyone who may choose to respond here can probably list myriad traditions that stand in the way, but ultimately under the current educational tradition we arrange for our students educational spouses they neither love nor care about.

We simply must examine our traditional practices and determine how much has changed since their inception. Whatever doesn’t fit or has become outdated, we must cast off in order to adopt new ways. Those, too, may become traditional, and we must constantly examine and adjust our practices for relevant alignment so our purpose doesn’t become as “shaky as a fiddler on the roof.”

What educational traditions are we holding on to that are getting in the way of change?

April 5, 2008 Posted by | Education | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Participate in the 2008 Education Blogosphere Survey

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Dangerously Irrelevant posted a link today to the 2008 Education Blogosphere Survey. The deadline to participate is January 26, 11:00PM, (GMT -6:00) Central Time (US & Canada). I took the survey; it only takes a few minutes and will help to get the word out for the educational blogsphere.

January 22, 2008 Posted by | Education | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment