1. Morgan Bayda
Morgan Bayda is a teacher in Saskatchewan who writes openly about her philosophy on education and her experiences as a teacher. In her blog post she talks about Dan Brown and his decision to drop out of school because "his schooling was interfering with his education" and how this is a direct example of how schools in North America are still using the same "model of schooling" that was created long ago by the "dominant classes".
To start off, watching the video first sets one up to understand Morgan's arguments and laments.
I agree with the questions Dan Brown brings up like..
"What does it mean to receive an education?"
And his arguments like the one about the value of information are very thought provoking. Only kings were in possession of the holy chalice known as knowledge, a right peasants and those less elite were excluded from. Information, knowledge, and education were bargaining chips, assets that kept the less fortunate in the dark and under the crushing and degrading heel of the powerful and the enlightened. To hoard knowledge and information was to stay in power, in control, and on top of the world.
As time went on, the value of information progressively plummeted as it was made available to those of "lesser status", thus limiting the value of information even further. Information went from being highly exclusive to simply being limited, available to those with enough resources to afford it. Enter the internet and the advent of information changed radically. Even the most remote and less connected of learners have access to information that can change their fate. The revolution that happened in information was when it became entirely free to everyone. Education, however, has not seemed to have taken advantage of this, and, well, really has not changed. Adopting a few new assets like Blackboard and SmartBoard alone are not the answer if students are still not engaged, interacting, communicating, interacting with their expanding world, and synthesizing this now free information. Dan Brown talks about the "scribbling down" and "memorization" of facts that made up most of his college courses, then makes the statement that "society no longer cares about facts." Facts are free! Anyone with a computer can find facts. "Education isn't about teaching facts" he says. Well, I happen to agree. I am tired of being bombarded with information that I have to download into my brain. In a perfect world, education would consist of..
Media and Technological resources
And not facts.
The most real statement for me was when he said: "We are in the midst of a very real revolution, and if institutional education refuses to adapt to the information age, it will die, and it should die."
I never really thought about it, but, when studying history in the past, higher education was something attained by those with money and titles. An education was valuable because very few people were fortunate to have much of one. When you think about it, the institute of education is still based on the same principles of the past, and does not accommodate everyone. Morgan alludes to this by contrasting classrooms with relevant learning and those that do not make use of this. Some things she advocates to facilitate learning I agree with, like:
I have also found that digital forums like this and many others have changed the way I research. Not only do I save time, but I am more open to researching and finding out new things and finding sources for assignments because I know I can find exactly what I am looking for.
2. Adventures in Pencil Integration: Don't Let Them Take the Pencils Home
As a future English teacher and lover of Literature, I compare things to literary terms. I see the literary elements in the most surprising of things. This, however, is not surprising. One expects to find something akin to decent literature in a blog. I thought that was sort of, well....the point.
Anyway, we have been learning about not only the use of technology in education, but much more than that! How lovely it is too finally see the contrast actually materialize.
Do you know what those are?
You hold them in your hand, connect them to paper, what comes out is not quite as exciting as a pen or a crayon?
BUT, thinking back to my younger days, they gave us pencils because they had erasers. We had free range to experiment with our letters and numbers and 'rithmetic and such because whatever we got wrong we could start all over. I, however, used mine to go around the room erasing everything I could get my hands on because apparently that was more fun to me than the alphabet. So that eraser thing may or may not be the pencil's strong suit. Depending on whether the child has problems following instructions or not...
But, in educator John T. Spencer's blog , he talks about pencils. He gives his students pencils to take home and is met with arguments from almighty administration that range anywhere from the pencils negatively affecting test scores to the children's low-income status to how what the students do with these pencils can be accurately measured. I like that Spencer not only does what he feels is right, but has the foresight and understanding of his students to know how to make counter-arguments to defend his philosophy. He knows why he has chosen to do what he has, and doesn't let heat from faculty alter his view. He also sees that just because no one knows what the students are using the pencils for at home (to play hangman, draw a masterpiece, write a story, to practice their bubbling for "drill-and-kill" tests), it is not standard anymore. Just like kids aren't the score they make on a standardized test. We should let them decide what simple things mean to them, how they can make use of them, what move to make next. A pencil is a good start because what real loss can we experience with something that costs less than a quarter? Think about all the creative minds that stand to gain from such basic freedom...