Summertime is a unique time in the life of a teacher, at least in the life of this teacher.
a – it gives me time to take back my self after the non-stop of the school year.
b – it also allows for reflection on the teaching I have done and will do.
(c – and of course summer is a time for fun, without thinking about having to preserve my energy for the classroom in the morning!)
I’ve stayed away from this blog for the past 2 days or so. I’ve been reading a crime novel, making a necklace, playing with my dog, doing suduko, unpacking and organizing, facebooking, and tweeting – basically keeping my mind superficially busy so that it could be free to work away on some issues in the background.
Nice thing we’ve got going here, this “pro-internet,” “anti-internet” debate.
(go read his post to see what he was going on about).
And as I read his post it made me think that this has all become a debate – a this vs. that – and it’s so not about that. It is, however, a resistance to the growing feeling I have that ‘digital literacy’ (see bottom of post for more on that) is becoming confused with the goal.
I teach, learn, and live with digital technologies, among other technologies, because I have found them to help me in my goal mission – YES MISSION – to help kids learn…
I became a teacher 12 years ago because I felt a call to do whatever possible to make sure that all children knew how to read. Since then, the theme has deepened for me, coming to mean much more than just knowing how to read.
I am coming to know literacy as being able to use cultural tools to make sense of the world we live in.
When I couple that with my understanding of experience and story – see Who are teachers? and my comment to SASSY reviews CNN’s Black in America: Black Men – I need to respect that there are many ways to do this, to make sense of the world we live in – to make sense of me in the world I live in relation to you and you in the world you and you live.
And so I am unsettled this morning as I reflect on how we – those of us who champion educational technology – think about, blog about, talk about, present about, attempt to persuade about, make assumptions about sense-making in our world.
This unsettled feeling has been creeping up on me, hanging out in my shadows. It stepped out of them for a moment this morning as I read Doug Belshaw’s EdD Thesis Proposal, in particular his equation of literacy in the 21st century with digital literacy. I commented (or at least I tried to, until edublogs’ server dropped the connection to the site … once again…):
Yup, still unsettled by the equation
literate in the 21st century = digitally literate
I think it is part of the equation, one of the ways to get there, but the sole definition of contemporary literacy?
Certainly excludes people without much access to digital media. Is there a danger of creating an even larger illiterate world by virtue of this definition?
I’m curious as to how you will explore this.
And I still ask the question – are we creating an even larger divide between peoples and cultures with different access to media when we make statements like:
Can we really say that literacy depends on that? To rephrase using somewhat out-of-date terminology, by doing so are we creating an even larger divide between the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd worlds? And what about between the different socio-economic situations within our own countries?
Are we honouring different stories and experiences by limiting our definition of literacy to digital, or at the very least by claiming it to be the most relevant?
Are we making the differences even more apparent? (UNHD 07/08 World Literacy Map)
More and more I wonder: is school a good place for teachers who want to make a difference in the lives of their students, and to the future of the world? Is there a way to leave the daily farce of gradebooks, attendance sheets, tests, corporate and statist curriculum, homework assignments, grade-licking college careerist “students” (and parents), fear of parents and administrators, and fear of inconvenient socio-political truths – and at the same time, to make a far more meaningful impact on the lives of the young?
I’m thinking yes. I’m thinking, moreover, obviously. I’m not sure how much longer I want to work for schools. I’d so much rather teach.
Coinciding with that discovery was 2 others:
this video, reminding me of KRS-One’s moniker ‘The Teacher’. (originally found here)
Everyone has a story, every individual and every culture.
Tell it in words or in sounds or in images or squishy things to touch. Tell it to yourself, or tell it to others. Be creative and unafraid. You know what to do.
But really, there are no coincidences.
My mission as a teacher has to do with teasing out the stories, with helping people find their stories – the most positive ones they can.
Like Clay, I don’t think that teaching is relegated to the classroom. In fact most real content that affects peoples lives is not found in the classroom, it’s found in the experiences that make up each of our stories.
Example: KRS-One is truly a teacher. He inspires to create a positive story.
“Today’s topic – self-construction”
“… This is an opportunity for you to rise to your highest self. There it is.”
I’m not going to tell you his story, watch the video up top, and you’ll get an idea of where those quotes come from.
The point here, is that teachers are found all over.
So why do I choose to teach in the classroom?
Classroom teaching is a unique opportunity to help young people choose their direction and write their stories. It’s like living is research, and the classroom is the lab where we get to make sense of all that cool data.
My job has so much more to do with helping kids organize the information that comes at them (the stories of the world) in a way that makes sense for them, then it does with teaching them the stories of the world, and so much more than it does with “…gradebooks, attendance sheets, tests, corporate and statist curriculum, homework assignments, grade-licking college careerist “students” (and parents), fear of parents and administrators, and fear of inconvenient socio-political truths…”
Yeah, there’s some paperwork and politics. I keep my mind focused on student need and my core values of relationship and hope for the future, and the paperwork and politics don’t seem as important. Everything falls into place.
Cause this is what I am supposed to be doing.
It’s the best way I know to rise to my highest self, and to help others do the same.