What do I hope?

What’s the end goal for our students?

Is there even an end?

What will all this technology do for us?

The potential is so great…

Two years ago I was working in a classroom with an overhead projector and a whiteboard, one computer with Windows ’90-something and super-duper slow internet. It has only been recently that I feel as though my basic technology needs (think: Maslow-esque hierarchy) were being met so I could move on to self-actualization and what I think is, indeed, a paradigm shift.

(Since I need to see the big picture first, please excuse me while I veer from the nuts and bolts of technology integration.)

What do I hope this means for my students?
I hope the power of technology to shift our energies from accumulating knowledge to sharing and collaborating and problem solving creatively will help us be better humans.

Oh my – (here she goes getting all Pollyanna on us)

No, I sincerely think it has the potential to help us become better humans.
Why? Because we can make connections with other people like we never have before. And connections lead to understanding.  Connections give purpose and meaning to our lives.*
Why? Because knowledge is no longer hoarded.** When we share knowledge and are able to collaborate, problems get solved more quickly, easily, and efficiently.
Why? Because in our schools I think it will better help us meet the unique needs of our students and allow them to follow their dreams and passions.
Why? When we meet the unique needs of our students, challenge them, engage them, and help them follow their dreams and goals, they will lead lives of greater meaning.

And in the end, isn’t that what we want? For our students to lead fulfilling lives?

Jacqueline Novogratz doesn’t mention a thing about technology in this TED Talk, but I think it relates strongly to what international schools strive to do.

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There were many powerful stories in this talk. Brief notes/reflections on a few (that may be be expanded upon later):

00:30- Wanting a life of purpose and greater meaning: * I recently discovered a research professor, Dr. Brene Brown, who studies vulnerability. How does one study this? Is this just something that wealthier nations have the luxury to study since they have clean water and an adequate food supply figured out? She points out that the United States is a nation of overbusy-ness which is a means of distraction from being vulnerable. It has made me wonder if we allow our students to make mistakes and learn from them or are they constantly pushed to achieve at the expense of more meaningful learning experiences?

2:35- I love the idea of thinking of oneself as a steward of the earth and seeing the faces of children seven generations into the future when making decisions. What would our world look like if this was taken into consideration?

7:20- Dis-empowered adolescents males: A few months ago I enjoyed West of Kabul East of New York by Tamim Ansary. He describes the Afghanistan of his youth with such a tight knit extended family structure. He muses that the Afghanistan of later years with its destruction of this strong clan environment likely contributed to the formation of the Taliban.

14:30- Ruby Bridges: The mention of Ruby Bridges initially conjured up Norman Rockwell’s painting of desegregation in New Orleans.  It also touched on a topic discussed at our last class, ownership and copyright issues.  Who ‘owns’ the work teachers do?  Is it ok to make all work, blogs, videos, curriculum, standards/benchmarks, etc.  accessible via Creative Commons?  I feel putting one’s work out there is part of the continuing expansion of education availability.  In the Middle Ages the church was loathe to allow anyone outside access to knowledge until the printing press revolutionalized information distribution.  Novogratz mentions desegregation in the southern United States, another time period when access to education was expanded to more people.  The wealth of information available online today is yet another revolution in allowing more people to be educated.  And like before, the group with the power (the knowledge, information, etc) more often than not, wants to maintain the status quo.

15:45- The image of the pinnacle of rice reaching to heaven before bowing to the earth from which it came was beautiful, a fitting symbol of leadership.

Photo credit: flip.01

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