Monday, July 1, 2013

Understanding the Impact of Technology on Education, Work, and Society

Not a very original title, but it gives an idea of the story all the same. I have decided ( follow Jesus...came right into my head when I typed those words, hah!) that I want to make a change to what I do and how I do it at work. I guess working on a change of this scope is as much of a metanoia as deciding to follow Jesus, so maybe it is apt. I have been working under the title of "Educational Technology Coordinator" for a number of years, but I don't know how much I have affected change in the classroom, hence this course.

Looking for a blog to comment on took much longer than I wanted it to. I followed a strange path and finally ended up looking at David Warlick's 2¢ Worth and found a blog post that moved me enough that I wanted to comment. The post is titled Is School 2.0 the Wrong Conversation. In it he suggests that we should be looking at the students we want to graduate from our schools and design schools that inspire those students. He says:

Perhaps, rather than trying to define the classroom and the school of the 21st century, we should be imagining and describing the student/learner of this post-industrial and change-fueled time.
  • What will they talk about after school?
  • How will they act after school?
  • What will homework become to them?
  • What products will they bring home or into their communities?
  • In what ways might their personal passions be manifestly tied to their school?
  • How might they excite their parents, neighbors and greater communities?
If we can answer these questions, recognizing that we don't all need to come to the same answers, then we can design the schools that inspire those students.
When I read this it made me stop. I have been in education for almost 35 years, and have seen all sorts of changes, usually in response to "bad reports". The students weren't making enough progress, they weren't scoring well on the standardized tests, the reading levels hadn't improved enough, the math scores were bad and so on. I don't believe there was ever a change to the books used or the curriculum chosen because students didn't talk about what they did in school that day when they left. We didn't change the math books because it wasn't meeting the needs of students who had  passion for math. We changed the books, the methods, the curriculum because the products coming out of school did not meet the standards set and pass final inspection.

While searching for a blog I felt moved to comment on I found a reference to "Makers". I'm guessing I'm late on the scene of this particular term because I saw references to it from 2011.  I don't have and haven't had a television in my house since 1993. I am not up to date on some of the most current trends, but as I have told many people over the years, I have much more time to do. From the website, The Maker Education Initiative, the mission of the site is to:

"...create more opportunities for young people to make, and, by making, build confidence, foster creativity, and spark interest in science, technology, engineering, math, the arts--and learning as a whole.

very cool cat tree!
I hadn't heard that term before, but after reading about it and what it means I found I am a maker, as are most of my siblings. I have five brothers and a sister. We all in one way or another are makers. I have a couple of brothers who are woodworkers, as is my sister in a smaller way. Three of my brothers are engineers. We are all self-proclaimed geeks when it comes to computers. I make quilts and have through the years made all sorts of other "girly" stuff. With my husband I have built a walk-in closet and replaced all the flooring in the house. I made a very cool cat tree without directions. This legacy of making comes from my father who had to make. He had 7 kids to support and my sister informed me a couple of years ago that we were poor (I hadn't realized that). He changed his own oil, (not very often I must confess), built, with some help from the kids, a carport and renovated the garage into an additional bedroom along with a zillion other projects. Some of my favorite memories of him are going to the hardware store to get one thing or another. I still enjoy hardware stores and have a difficult time not picking up this or that because I might be able to use it somewhere is some project.

The maker movement is, I believe, a need for people to show that they can DO, they can produce and not just consume. My husband works with teens and has said that many lose their way because they don't have a purpose. Perhaps becoming makers gives us a purpose. It gives us a way to show ourselves and the world that we can do. We spend much of our time, in school and at work, doing what must be done, but not doing that which moves us. We can't wait to be done so that we can get out and follow our passions. If we can answer the questions posed by David Warlick and change what school looks like, perhaps we can have students who can't wait to get to school to follow their passions.

1 comment:

  1. Mary,

    I love this post. I love the idea of being a maker. I just kicked my 13 year off the computer a little while ago and had him work on an electronic kit, then I encouraged him to draw the vase of sunflowers on my kitchen table and now he is busy making a movie with his flip camera.

    When I was much younger I used to draw, paint, write plays, and play the guitar. I keep saying I'm going to get back to all the hobbies one day. I heard it said, if you want to find your spirit again, do what you did when you were young that you enjoyed. That's what your post is reminding of. If we can find out what students are interested in and foster and enrich that we could have graduates that are really good at something they actually want to do.