Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Element of Fear

One of the unsurprising themes coming across in The Global Achievement Gap is the need to move beyond content and focus instruction on developing the learning skills necessary for success in life. Of course, the Ed Tech crowd, for one, has been saying this for some time now.

Seth Godin has an interesting post on fear and its impact on being able to sell a product.
Whatever you sell, there are two big reasons people aren't buying it:
1. They don't know about it.
2. They're afraid of it.

Overall, #1 seems to be improving nicely. The larger education community has heard about "the stuff." They're hearing more and more about how "the stuff" can support teaching and learning. However, it feels like we are still quite some distance from any kind of tipping point where true and meaningful tech integration is commonplace.

#2 is the stumbling block.
[People are] afraid of anything with too many choices, too many opportunities to look foolish or to waste time or money.

There are so many choices, so many tools; it's hard to know what to use when. So, how do we reduce this barrier of too many choices? What kinds of guidance will best support teachers by appropriately narrowing the choices to mitigate the chances of wasting time or money?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Global Achievement Gap--Introduction

As part of an effort to develop professional learning communities in the district, central administrators and principals are reading The Global Achievement Gap by Tony Wagner. I haven't read any of Wagner's earlier writings, but looking at the titles of his earlier works, it's clear he has been discussing school change for some time. However, unlike some of the alarmist rhetoric we've seen in the past, in his introduction Wagner is adopting a measured tone that reflects a core reality of schools.

The failure to give all students these new skills leaves today's youth--and our country--at an alarming competitive disadvantage. Schools haven't changed; the world has. And so our schools are not failing. Rather, they are obsolete--even the ones that score the best on standardized tests. This is a very different problem requiring an altogether different solution (p. xxi).

What I am left wondering, naturally, is just what the solution(s) are according to Wagner? I'm at a loss to think of an obsolete industry that recovered, climbing out of obsolescence and back into some kind of meaningful relevance in the world. Is there "an altogether different solution" that doesn't mean bulldozing public education and starting over from scratch but that can still be implemented in an effective enough and timely enough manner to resurrect our schools? Wagner appears hopeful. He closes the introduction on this note.

In this book, we embark on a journey together, not only to understand this global achievement gap but also to discover new ways of thinking about education and best practices in schools that are preparing all students for learning, work, and citizenship in the twenty-first century (p. xxvii).

I've started in on the first chapter wherein Wagner explains his take on the skills students need to develop during their K-12 education in order to be successful in the world beyond the classroom. We shall see.

Redo, Redesign, Reset?

I've been feeling the itch to get back to blogging, but I don't feel like this space is quite the right one for me now. I started the blog as a classroom teacher exploring how to use blogs, specifically, and web 2.0, in general, in the classroom.

The transition out of the classroom was a hard one, and I lost my urge to blog as I worked out just what life as a Teacher on Special Assignment was supposed to look like. But now I've transitioned again--this time to Instructional Technology Coordinator--and while I'm busy working out just what this means, I've got that itch.

But, again, I don't feel like this space is quite right. So, what to do? Rename the blog? Change the URL? Start from scratch somewhere else? Blogger again? Edublogs? Some other platform? For now, I'll just try to get some momentum rolling here.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

diigo bookmarks (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.