A Whole New…Everything

I’ve just finished reading Dan Pink’s A Whole New Mind. My read before that was Chap Clark’s Hurt. Add to that the 200+ posts I’ve read from edubloggers across the world and my head is full of new thoughts and new versions of old thoughts.

In his Afterward, Pink writes:

Individuals and organizations that focus their efforts on doing what foreign knowledge worders can’t do cheaper and computers can’t do faster, as well as on meeting the aesthetic, emotional, and spiritual demands of a prosperous time, will thrive.

Scott McLeod issued a recent challenge to educational technology advocates to “…articulate in a few short sentences or paragraphs what the end result looks like.” As educators, advocates of embedded technology or not, our responsibility is to create an end result that applies Pink’s guidelines for success to education.

According to Clark, the largest problem facing adolescents today is a “systematic abandonment.” The answer to what we must do, to the end result, is a reversal of that abandonment. Technology is a piece, but countless posts from minds I’ve come to respect show that the places where technology has had the greatest effects have been where it connects students to other students, to other teachers, to other learners.

The end result is greater personal connection. Access to information is important, yes. Access to others is key.

The end result is a classroom in which students’ personal needs are first recognized and valued by a teacher who takes the time to learn who each student is as an individual and then uses the limitless reach of tools, 1.0 and 2.0, to create a learning experience that encourages shared ownership and elevated expectations.

I read with great interest the dispatches recounting the learning going on in Darren Kuropatwa’s classroom. Technology has had an amazing impact on Darren’s students.

I argue, though, that it is his level of respect and caring for his students’ opinions and needs that has garnered him them such results. His willingness to allow his students access to a global stage and show them his faith in their ability to guide and sculpt their own learning have filled a gap left by, if Clark’s claim holds true, societal abandonment.

Will Richardson’s recent posts about spending time with his kids, Miguel Guhlin’s posts about his time in Panama, David Warlick’s twit about shopping for a bird bath, Paul Wilkinson’s admittance that web browsing and video watching are helping him procrastinate – these are not high-minded intellectual posts. These are asyncronous social connections allowing others (many anonymous) a feeling of connection.

McLeod’s post points to one by Warlick where Warlick states: “I think that the real story is that our schools are not connecting to (relevant to) their own goals, preparing children for their future.” I offer a slight but imperative amendment: The real story is that our schools are not connecting to their students and their goal of preparing them for their futures.

More later.

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