Tag Archives: young people

Rethinking young people, rethinking ourselves

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Photo taken by Chris Suderman

In his book Through the children’s gate, Adam Gopnik said this about children:

Children reconnect us to romance. For children, … every day is the first day of love: The passions that for us grown-ups rise and fall only in exceptional circumstances, unexpected storms on the dull normal beach where the tide breaks unchangingly, rise every day for them. Shock, hatred, infatuation: “I hate you,” they cry, slamming the door, and they mean it; and then the door opens fifteen minutes later for dessert. They compel us to see the world as an unusual place again. Sharing a life with them is like sharing a life with lovers, explorers, scientists, pirates, poets. It makes for interesting mornings.

I like this quotation for a few reasons. Firstly, to remind me of the passionate and immediate nature of young people. If at school they seem indifferent, apathetic, unengaged, then we need to ask ourselves why. We look to ourselves and what we are doing as teachers to make them behave in a way which is actually contrary to their nature.

Secondly, this passage tells me what we can gain from being with young people, what we can learn from them. Our role as teachers is not to ‘teach’ them in the sense of pouring into them what we know better, it is to listen, to bring out, to – with time, the time it takes to know a person – understand where their interests lie, what their passions are, how we can harness their dreams to educational opportunities. We provide the environment, teach skills, encourage and guide, but we work with the unknown – the unknown possibilities of what each young person is yet to create, to achieve.

As I think about returning to school soon, starting along that well worn cyclical path again, I’m gathering together the technology tools that I look forward to using with students, but I’m not thinking about the technology – I’m thinking about the process, the learning and teaching process that will take place. This year I’d like to focus on providing learning experiences which are from people, from communities, learning not from static texts but from living, thinking people – some from other hemispheres – from conversations, comparisons, real discoveries. I’m hoping that this year’s learning will not come solely from one teacher. The net will be cast wide. What treasures will be collected in the net?

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Filed under 21st century learning, Education, learning, networking, teachers, teaching, Web 2.0

#17 Library 2.0


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Originally uploaded by David Warlick

I haven’t slept well for the last few nights. I’ll tell you why. I haven’t been able to let go of a significant stuff-up in a job interview for the position of teacher librarian in a secondary school. It still astounds me that, when asked how I would engage students in reading if money were no object, I completely forgot to resource the collection! No mention of buying books! My library would somehow engage young readers bypassing a collection altogether.

I blame my present conversion to all things Web 2.0. Seriously, it’s almost as if a vibrant collection of resources is taken for granted. But, to be fair, when I analyse my giant faux pas, I would have to say that we all know, and have known for some time, that school libraries need a fantastic variety of all things readable, countless copies of every author, genre and style. But it’s not enough! One of the other questions that challenged me during the interview (an excellent question) was ‘how we get to know adolescents’ at our school. I think this is one of the most important questions, because if we don’t think about how we are going to understand young people in our schools, then we’re buying books for ourselves, then our programs are for a mismatched audience, our money is spent in vain.

During the course of this Web 2.0 journey, we’ve had a taste of the world that our students more authentically inhabit than we do, a world we have to force our way into perhaps, so as to have an insight into the question ‘how do we engage young people in reading?’ After crawling into Facebook and MySpace, feeling our way through Flickr photosharing, and other Web 2.0 applications, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that we’re living in a new information landscape, one where interacting and sharing understandings, views and knowledge is the purpose behind everything we do. David Warlick noted a graduate student’s comments about school in his blog,

“There’s not really an avenue at school for me to share, or publish my own stuff, or especially get feedback from people all over — That’s really the only reason I rush home to do MySpace so much.”

I think the reason I omitted to talk about the provision of books and concentrated on Web 2.0 applications, is that, like Will Richardson, I see this generation as a read/write generation. It’s not just about reading – it’s about reading and sharing opinions and ideas about what we’ve read with our friends.  If we provide books, then we should provide the opportunity for socialnetworking amongst students. Teachers should not be the sole audience. Young people care about what other young people think. This is what Library 2.0 is about – innovation, people and community building.

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Filed under Education, Web 2.0