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The Juice

February 12, 2012
By

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In Italian, the expression for getting to the very essence of a discussion is to “get to the juice”.  In this first week of Coetailing, I have had trouble getting to the juice of anything. I have found myself at times thinking about my practice as a second grade teacher, the role that technology currently occupies in my teaching, and the role that it plays in the children’s learning (subtly different!).  At other times, the  much vaster picture looms, and I contemplate the shift that needs to happen in education in order to for students to be better prepared for the world that they are a part of. After that, of course, I also have to teach, be a dad, a husband, go fishing, etc. So it has become somewhat of a dizzying procession of ideas and opinions that I sometimes agree with and sometimes don’t, but ultimately come away overwhelmed by.  I do have, however,  great faith that as I explore these ideas and opinions more I will see things with a greater clarity and be able to connect them to one another.

Back to getting to the juice.  I was reading Will Richardson’s post titled The”Shift to Networks”, and it occurred to me that he really managed to get to the juice of his idea concisely.  He, with the support of Joi Ito and George Siemens, proposes that in this world one of the principal roles of schools should be to help students to establish themselves as “a node in a broad network of distributed creativity” (Joi Ito in the New York Times). This connectivity  should be the desired outcome of the learning experiences that we plan.  That’s the juice of it, and I agree wholeheartedly.  For me it gets murky after that.  The implementation, that is.

If we want to take the above statements out of the conditional and make them reality, there is some difficult work to be done.   All teachers have to have (tech) skills to be able to teach this way, although I feel like in half a generation from now that will not be an issue.  School administrations, school boards, communities of parents, they will all have to buy into this, because it is not a simple tweak of the status quo.  It is a real shift away from how most children are educated right now.   All of these stakeholders (who all hold differing agendas), will need to be convinced of the value of connectivity and collaborative creativity becoming the focus of students’ learning.  I feel that of all of the stakeholders, only the students will not need to be convinced.

 

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