Today, I have been mulling over the words of classmate Danielle Stinson, which really was the catalyst to bring this post together. It’s been in pieces for days, but no longer. And it looks very different from when I first started; that is the power of the collective.
I see in Danielle a kindred spirit. I too have had students leave my class because their parents did not agree with what I taught. I had a student switch schools because they did not want to take English with me, and at the time, I was the only option. And while I have not had significant battles in the area of technology and open learning, I’m sure the time will come.
I think it’s likely our division is more progressive in this area because we are fortunate enough to have Dean Shareski as a consultant. I’m also guessing we have a fairly reasonable IT department, who appreciate the leadership Dean shows in this area. That being said, I’m guessing he’s had a few battles too.
I think we teach in a time when we need teachers with daring. I think, in the end, those are the only teachers who are really going to make a significant difference. In a time when the words d’jour are standardization and accountability, we need teachers who know what truly matters. And most of us know that education needs to radically change.
Our students need skills that many schools aren’t teaching; that some divisions are actually banning. We teach in an age when many students reach the end of their education feeling devalued for the skills they possess, others not even knowing what they are.
I know that I need to radically change my classroom to give my students what they need. Although I’m deep in this process, I do not pretend that it’s easy. It’s not.
And while I have always pushed my students to think, I very rarely have taught them to learn or become a co-learner with them. And that’s why I love social media, PLN’s & PLE’s.
One of the things I love about social media, is that it gives my students a voice. A voice they don’t normally have, or are even expected to have. To most people, they’re supposed to be hanging out at the mall.
Dean Shareski states that sharing is our moral imperative. Really, this isn’t any different from when we were children. How many times have you told your children, or were told as a child, to play nice and share? It makes the world a better place. I believe this applies to my students too.
I think one of the problems with our students, is that by the time they reach high school, they’re thoroughly convinced they have nothing worth sharing with the world, at least not until they become adults. But as my grade 10’s defiantly state, “We are not the future. We are right now!” But too few believe or experience this reality.
I want to change this erroneous belief in my students. Part of the reason I think it exists is because of the marginal, narrow roles teenagers are given in our society. They tend to play one of two roles: consumers or commodities (think Miley Cyrus). I think the idea of them as producers or contributors, is a foreign experience. Yet, my goal is to prove to them otherwise.
Starting this semester, I am creating PLE’s with my students. However, I don’t plan on calling it that. I don’t plan on calling it anything. Instead, I’m going to model that this is how people who are growing “do” life. We explore. We learn. We contribute. We connect. We grow. And we fight a few battles along the way.
I love Stephen Downes’ statement, “We need to move beyond the idea that an education is something that is provided for us, and toward the idea that an education is something that we create for ourselves. It is time, in other words, that we change our attitude toward learning and the educational system in general.”
I think Downes’ statement is correct. But I take this a step further. I need to move beyond the idea that the educational system provided to me, is the one I want to teach in, and toward the idea that the system we need, is not one I create myself, but is created with a community of educators who have a vision that there is something better.
I know the stakes are too high not to do it, as is so well articulated by Ken Robinson.
I hold to Gandhi’s statement that “you must be the change you wish to see in this world.” We must dare to believe and create a different educational system than the one that exists. Keep pressing on Danielle; You will have students who will thank you for it.