Tag Archives: comments

Wisdom from the periphery

As always, I’m amazed by the wisdom of the people who form my online network. My last post was written out of the frustration I was feeling when I was temporarily overwhelmed by a sense of isolation – it seemed to me that I was speaking a foreign language amongst many of those around me. It wasn’t long before I started to receive comments from other educators – intelligent, diverse and encouraging comments. My sense of isolation was short-lived. These people have become colleagues regardless of their geographical location. They have become valuable friends and colleagues, sharing their views based on experience and reflection. I feel inspired and supported by these people; thankyou to all of you.

I would recommend you read all the comments, and I’d like to take the opportunity to feature the last comment I’ve received so far, because it would be a shame to leave it buried. I admire Paul Stewart’s deep thinking, and I think he eloquently expresses what many of us can relate to:

A wonderful post. It’s a reminder that we’re not all on the same page. Teachers are an eclectic bunch, and this should be a good thing – I abhor homogeneity, as do kids – but I can appreciate your frustration that our differences result in division. Ironically, it is our diversity that should unite us – it’s what makes us interesting to our students.

That said, I find it difficult to understand how educators – people charged with the responsibility of extending our youth, could be so reluctant to understand the context in which today’s youth develop. These teachers often see school as separate to the world outside, rather than an essential part of it.

Now I don’t buy into the whole digital natives nonsense (now there’s a flawed concept that has got more mileage than it deserved) but I do believe it is the role of any educator to constantly seek out new ways to engage, stimulate and challenge their students. Educators should be provocative. They should be unsettling (but in a good way).

And students? Well, students should be constantly shedding their skin in a classroom. They should be pushed to embrace change by experiencing it.

Now of course, you don’t need to use technology every minute of a lesson to achieve such outcomes, but it puzzles me that some teachers can so easily dismiss the opportunities that lie in technology: the chance to produce rather than consume, the chance to collaborate across time and space, the chance to make a mark upon society without using a spray can. Technology gives students so many tools to analyse, design, produce and investigate and these should not be denied to kids simply because a teacher is unfamilar with such tools.

I added dumplings to a chicken curry I made the other day and one of my progeny stuck out his bottom lip and refused to eat. After much coaxing, he tried one, then two… Ten minutes later he stuck out his bowl for seconds. I was pleased but I wish it didn’t have to be so hard. It’s sometimes like that with teachers (and they do not have the defence of youth to excuse their reactions to new experiences).

Your post really made me think of how different people are. As I get older, I am increasingly aware that I am approaching a time when there will be fewer days in front of me than there are behind me, and that makes me want to pack in as many new experiences as possible. The thought of doing something the same way twice kind of depresses me. The thought of teaching the same lesson that I taught five years ago, ignoring all the incredible changes that have happened in the world, now that would lead to ennui so crippling, I wouldn’t get out of bed.

I don’t think you’re alone in getting frustrated in having to justify your position, but that’s the lot of innovative people. By pushing the boundaries, you (by definition) place yourself on the periphery. There will always be a need to supply justifications to employers (they have a right to ask) but I hope we can move to a place in education where the innovative and bold are not subject to the sort of scepticism you allude to in your post.

Thankyou for taking the time to reply so thoughtfully, Paul. This line made me sit up and take notice:

These teachers often see school as separate to the world outside, rather than an essential part of it.

How many of us have thought about whether what we do at school has anything to do with the outside world? That would make an interesting survey, don’t you think?

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Filed under 21st century learning, Education, networking, teachers, teaching, technology

A picture’s worth a thousand words

I found ‘A picture’s worth’ on the Learning technology teacher development blog. it’s a wonderful collective version of people’s stories behind their own photos – even more interesting as a kaleidoscopic collection. Starting as a personal project, ‘A picture’s worth’ has developed into a pictorial record of varied experiences and reflections. Submissions of photos and text between 300 and 1000 words are moderated, and copyright for photos and essay remains with the author.

Some authors will include website links, and a map showing where the photo adds to the authenticity of the story. I like this idea for the classroom. Rather than write the usual story about a personal photo, students can showcase to a peer audience, and the shared stories could trigger ideas. It’s always interesting to see what subject matter is chosen and for what reason. Here’s an example of someone who loves photographing little forgotten theatres. Some of these stories are more intimate than others. Here’s an intimate, emotional one about a family coping with a dying grandmother. Here’s a confronting, brave one about abuse called ‘Bruised twice’.

The picture inserted in this post is of my church in Brunswick, Melbourne, on Merri Creek, although it could well be in Russia. This church building houses many stories, from its inception which remained a dream for many decades, including the efforts of many people, some of whom never saw the completed project, to the present day. And it will be connected to many different families and individuals in years to come.

The picture below is the inside of the church looking up at the cupol.

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Filed under Education, photos, Web 2.0, writing

Coveting covers

The Book Cover Appreciation gallery is for hardcore bookcover lovers. You can get into really heavy discussion about the details of the book cover. Clicking on the cover takes you to the comment page. The blog is updated several times a week.

Here’s an example of a comment about an Animal Farm book cover:
Although I have often conflicted about Shepard’s work and his source materials which could be debated as dubious. The propaganda style works especially since these are anti-socialist/communist novels. The Obey logo I find quite funny on the covers, how many designers have the balls or be allowed to put there personal logo on a book cover, the mark of an iconoclast

Can you get passionate about a book cover?

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Filed under art, Children's books

Web 2.0 guilt

WunderkammerJohn Larkin’s blog struck a chord with me when he talked about signing up for everything under the sun ‘in a drunken Web 2.0 haze’. Me too. My ‘registrations’ information word doc is now into its third page – yes, you heard correctly. But what am I to do!? There’s so much out there, and I’m like a child in a lolly shop. All the lollies are free, did I mention? As John says, ‘too much choice does create paralysis. Like the aisles in a supermarket. Too much choice is a legacy of the twentieth century I guess’. And I do love knowledge, discussion, recommendation, links to fabulous resources. And I love passing these on to other people. Still, this weekend I have done other things: boring house stuff, baked a blueberry crumble cake, helped my younger son with a project about earthquake-safe houses, bought a barbecue, watched an energizing Nigel Kennedy concert on DVD, had breakfast at Brunetti’s, visited Wunderkammer, read my older son’s year 12 psychology research essay, played with the dog…. so you see, it’s not that bad.
I loved one of the comments on John Larkin’s blog: ‘Set up a new group? What should we call it? “Clayton’s 2.0″? The group you have when you are not having a group?’

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Filed under Web 2.0